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Elijah and Elisha 15

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Does your tongue need healing. Purifying a foul tongue

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Elijah and Elisha 15.
Can we please turn in our Bibles to James chapter 3 [P]. The message today is one which I am not qualified to preach. There is a black pot up [P] here who has no right to speak to any kettles who may be present. However, my name is in the newsletter; so here I am! [P] [James 3:1–12 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.] I can remember being given this passage to write out in detention at school (several times) as punishment for giving someone lip, saying something that I shouldn’t have. I always used to think that it was inappropriate: it said my tongue was uncontrollable, “no one can tame it”; and here they were punishing me for what I couldn’t control! Why blame me?! My tongue got me in trouble. And I have to confess that, still, bad words come out of my mouth. I regret what I say; but once it is out, you cannot stuff it back in. I am defiled by what I speak. I can say a lot of good and fine things, but one bad word contaminates the lot. I recall a bush walk at the Franz Joseph glacier; coming out of the bush you looked down on where two rivers joined. One was fed from the glacier and was grey and muddy due to the rock-flour from the glacier; the other stream was fresh and clear from the mountain. You could see the two streams meet – but the one river, made from the two joining, was grey and muddy. The evil contaminates the good. You don’t get fresh and foul water together – it is just foul. And that is what they had in Jericho: [P] [2 Kings 2:19–25 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful.” (the LORD looks for fruitfulness: “John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”) He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So, they brought it to him. He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says יהוה, there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.’” (It was the word of יהוה, not the salt that healed the waters) So the waters have been purified to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke. Then he went up from there to Bethel; [P] and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city [P] and mocked him and said to him, [P] “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” When he looked behind him and saw them, [P] he cursed them in the name of יהוה. [P] Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. [P] He went from there to Mount Carmel, [P] and from there he returned to Samaria.] We have the story of a spring that was bad, undrinkable; it brought sterility, there was death in it. James says that our tongue is like a spring. [P] [Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.] Do my words wound, bring forth life or death; do they destroy or build up? Elijah told people to bring a new jar, unused, uncontaminated; and to put salt in it. He threw the salt in the spring and He spoke the word of יהוה, a word of blessing; and the waters were purified. It was from that time on – they continued to be pure, right to this day. It wasn’t the salt that chemically put things right; that would soon have been diluted out of the flowing stream. No, it was the action of God in response to obedience to what He said was to be done – it was “according to the word”. The contaminated spring was healed by the word of blessing. Then there is the story with a word of curse: this gang of young larakins who mocked the man of God. What is the lesson in that?! To call down vengeance on those who insult us?! No, but again God acts. He acts to vindicate and defend His man, His spokesman. It was an unprovoked attack by these lads. It was ad hominim: they had no valid criticism, they couldn’t fault Elisha’s doctrine, action, piety; they insulted his person – his baldness. It was defiled speech. [P] They did not know what they were doing! The man of God is to be respected and honoured. The lesson is: you do not go around slandering God’s servant! There are dire consequences! יהוה takes such insults personally and stands up for His own. יהוה will judge severely those who speak against those whom He appoints. Do you remember Miriam? [Numbers 12:1–15 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has יהוה indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” (they thought that Moses was exalting himself, they were just as good. “Who did he think he was?”) And יהוה heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly יהוה said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then יהוה came down (God came down in person to vindicate His man!) in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. (I can remember being called to the principal’s office – if that made me tremble, imagine a summons by יהוה!) When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, יהוה, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of יהוה! Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?” So, the anger of יהוה burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. “Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!” Moses cried out to יהוה, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!” But יהוה said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.” So, Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.] The story is a strong warning against slander. Speaking against those in authority, those in spiritual leadership over us, those through whom יהוה speaks. And it is so easy to do! You are at work; everyone is down on management. We can all see where they have gone wrong and the dumb things they have done. We could all do a better job than them and we are quick to join in the criticism; but God has placed them in authority over us! They are to be respected. God has placed men in leadership in our fellowship; they are to be honoured and respected. These young men spoke against יהוה’s servant; and יהוה punished them severely for doing so. Two stories that relate to the use of our tongue, to the way we speak. Does anybody listen to Derek Prince on the radio? He did a series entitled: “Does your tongue need healing?” [P] He relates how, in the second world war, when he was in the army as a medical orderly; there was this doctor who did the ward rounds. He would go to each bed and say: “show me your tongue!” Doctors don’t make diagnoses by such means today, they need some numbers from a lab to know what is wrong. But, apparently, this doctor judged the patients’ state of health by the condition of their tongue. And it is that way with us: our tongue reveals what is in our heart! The tongue reveals the person; because, as Jesus said: [Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.] What is inside, comes out; … through the mouth! And Jesus Himself copped it! They said that He was empowered by the chief of demons – it is slander! It didn’t matter what you did, how your lived, how you presented yourself still people would speak against you: [Matthew 11:16–19 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”] It didn’t matter what you did; they would criticize! Consistently, Israel spoke against those whom יהוה sent to them. And we can do the same: [James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.] We speak against our brother, someone for whom Christ died and forgave (just as He did for us). In doing so we place ourselves above God and His law. He has forgiven, but we judge and condemn! But we grizzle and complain about other people: [James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door!] In doing so, we place ourselves under judgement again! We put on a fine Christian show but our speech lets us down – it reveals what is in our heart. We claim to follow Christ, we are oh so religious, come to church but: [James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.] Our religion is worthless! If this is the case, what is the point of coming to church?! Jesus said that we will be held account for every idle word that we say: [Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.] And I have to admit that I say a lot of idle words! We say, “Oh, I didn’t really mean it.” “I was only joking” – idle words! And they are not always the most edifying! I say stuff that is derogatory! Peter said: [1 Peter 2:1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,] [P] “Slander” – “speaking against”; speaking unsubstantiated bad stuff about other people; lies, designed to damage another’s reputation. Paul said: [Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.] In: [Colossians 3:8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.] The Bible is quite clear: we are not to speak damaging false words against other people. But I do! We do! And often, it is directed against those in authority over us. [P] In the fellowship God has placed men in the role of elders; they have spiritual leadership, it is a position of authority. In the LORD, they are over me and you and they have to give account for those under their care. We are to respect them in the LORD. Honour them, obey them, submit to them. [Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.] Will they “do this with joy” if we are constantly criticizing them?! Because we don’t always agree with their decisions; we say, “they should be doing this”, “they shouldn’t be doing that.” “If I were running things, I would do it differently”. We criticize those that God has placed over us. Paul told Timothy: [1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.] They had to be protected against false accusation. They were not beyond blame and fault; but it had to be substantiated; not the slanderous attacks of an individual. We should honour them: [1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.] [1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labour among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.] Our speech should be consistent. [P] We read in James; he spoke of a spring giving out salty water and fresh – it just doesn’t happen! With our mouths we praise God, yet the next moment are criticizing those He has placed over us! This should not be! Jesus Himself, copped it. The Jews of Jesus day accused Him of being demon-possessed; empowered by Beelzebub. They had slandered Him. In this context He said this: [Matthew 12:33–37 “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, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”] They are sobering words! Does your tongue need healing: “Show me your tongue!” – my tongue shows the filthy state of my heart! Look, I’d rather be speaking about something else because I say stuff that I am ashamed of. Like James says: I praise God (and I mean it) from my heart; but I also say some pretty mean and bitter things about other people – and James says: “My brothers, these things ought not to be this way![P] My tongue, my speech, the spring of my mouth needs purifying. Elisha took salt to purify the spring. As I said, it was not a chemical reaction; the water stayed pure. Elisha was obeying יהוה and יהוה did a miracle; changed the spring from foul to pure. But he had to put salt in a new clean jar and add it to the spring. The meaning of a new clean vessel is fairly obvious [P] – we are made new creatures: [2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.] The old has gone; dead, crucified with Christ: [Romans 6:3–7 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? (the tense indicates that it happened in the past, but the effect carries on) Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.] Dead to sin and alive to Christ! [Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.] New creatures! But, what is the salt? [P] How do we make the water pure? How does my speech become purified? The Bible speaks of a covenant of salt. Salt purifies and was added to sacrifices. Because speech comes from the heart; the new covenant was a heart transplant: [Jeremiah 31:33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares יהוה, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.] Our purification is based on our covenant relationship and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. Jesus spoke of the hopelessness of when “salt loses its savour” [Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.] Paul said, in regard to our speech: [Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.] Fine, we need our speech seasoned with salt, purified – but what does that mean? How do I get pure speech? Isaiah was a prophet, had been prophesying for some time, he was one of the most godly men in the country. If anyone had it together spiritually, it was Isaiah. Then he had encounter with יהוה! [Isaiah 6:1–8 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the יהוה of armies, the whole earth is full of His glory.” (the seraphim had pure speech). And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, יהוה of armies.” (I am not alone! Isaiah too had a problem with his speech!) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”] Here he was the one who spoke God’s word; yet faced with the purity of the presence of God he said: “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, יהוה of armies.” He knew that his speech was defiled! But then his lips were cleansed with a coal from the altar. [P] Fire purifies, burns away the corruption. Still, today, we sterilize, purify, with heat. I used to think that this coal was taken from the bronze altar – the place of sacrifice, where sin was atoned for. And certainly, there is cleansing in the sacrifice of Jesus: [1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.] But when you see the context of the temple, the true tabernacle in heaven, with seraphim before the presence of יהוה; you realise that the altar from which the coal came was the altar of incense – the place of intercession. What purifies my speech, a coal from the presence of יהוה, from the place of intercession. Who intercedes for me in the presence of God? Jesus! [Romans 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.] He is in the place of highest honour and authority, speaking on our behalf. We have a lawyer, an advocate, pleading out case for us before God – One whom He will take notice of, One who pleases Him: [1 John 2:1–2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; (the wrath due to me because of my foul speech is turned aside) and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.] Jesus said that I will have to give account, on the day of judgement; for every careless word I’ve spoken: [Hebrews 4:13–16 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (what chance do I stand?!) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near (we should be separated because of our uncleanness; but, instead, we can draw near!) with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.] I certainly am in a time of need when I face the Judge! But I may receive mercy, find grace! Hallelujah! Who can save me from the wrath that my foul tongue merits? The one who intercedes for me. My Great High Priest can save me! Praise His Name! [P] [Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.] Jesus is interceding for me! Bless His Name! There is a purifying coal from the altar of incense, the place of intercession. Right there in the holy place where יהוה Himself dwells: [Hebrews 9:24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;] Yes, Jesus died, rose again, ascended to the right hand of the Father – He now there appears before Him in His presence – but wonder of wonders! It is for us! He intercedes for us! I am dependent, moment by moment, totally, upon the continuous intercession of Jesus on my behalf. James said that my tongue was uncontrollable – but God has done what I can never do! [P] [1 Corinthians 1:30–31 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, (we are righteous and holy – in Christ Jesus!) and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”] It is His doing! The glory goes to Him alone! To purify the contaminated spring of my speech requires an act of God! A miracle! A divine work and God has promised to do it: [P] [Zephaniah 3:9 “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of יהוה to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.] We need purified lips; but, like the healing of the spring in Jericho; it is utterly the LORD’s doing. A miracle that He alone can do. We look to Him to complete the work that He began in us, for the glory of His Name.
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