“How Do You Respond to Criticism?” June 14

 

How Do You Respond to Criticism? - Criticism, anger, sarcasm: Words have an effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. How should we use our words and how should we respond when someone criticizes us?

Criticism, anger, sarcasm: Words have an effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. How we speak says more about what’s going on in our hearts than the other person’s!
And what about when someone criticizes us? Does how we respond reveal things about us, as well? Can we respond in ways that allow us to benefit from even the most unfair criticism?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 15 & 16
Psalm 73.21-28
Proverbs 18.20-21
John 21.1-25

 

How Do You Respond to Criticism?

 

Responding Well to Criticism

2 Kings 15 & 16:

 

Chapter 15 summarizes the reigns of Azariah, also called Uzziah, and his son Jothan. The Scripture says they did what was right in the sight of the Lord in many ways, although both tolerated the idolatrous practices of the people.

But then … verse 5:

“Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death …”

What happened?

The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles gives us some insight. After serving the Lord well and seeing God prosper his efforts, Uzziah (Azariah) got puffed up with pride and tried to usurp the priestly role by going into the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense, something only the priest was to do. But even then, God didn’t strike him with leprosy until he refused to listen to the High Priest when rebuked (2 Chron. 26.16-23).

This is a great reminder to us to heed God’s Word and listen to wise counsel. And when we are rebuked, corrected, or criticized, we need to consider it carefully and prayerfully. Even when it seems unfair, we should ask the Lord if there is even a nugget of truth in what was said.

 

This is a great reminder to us to heed God’s Word and listen to wise counsel. And when we are rebuked, corrected, or criticized, we need to consider it carefully and prayerfully. Even when it seems unfair, we should ask the Lord if there is even a nugget of truth in what was said.

 

A great little booklet about how to receive criticism is called Words That Cut. It’s available through Peacemaker Ministries. If you’re not familiar with their ministry and materials, you might want to check out their website.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

God Our Strength and Portion Forever

Psalm 73.21-28:

 

After all his complaining the psalmist turns his attention to God. Verses 21-26:

21 Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

The psalmist was convicted over his own sinful attitude (vvs. 21-24), but also aware of God’s grace, “Nevertheless I am continually with You …”  Continue reading

“God’s Grace in the Tribulation” December 11

 

God's Grace in the Tribulation - Even though God’s grace, as well as, God’s judgment will be demonstrated everywhere during the Tribulation, many will still reject the truth.Even though God’s grace, as well as, God’s judgment will be demonstrated everywhere during the Tribulation, many will still reject the truth.

Also, read about the hurtful power of words and how the truths of God are stumbling blocks to those who refuse to believe.

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 13 & 14
Psalm 140.1-5
Proverbs 29.23
Revelation 1.1-20

 

God’s Grace in the Tribulation

 

Revelation 1.1-20:

The Time is Short

 

almost midnight clock

The more complete and accurate title for this book is contained in verse 1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus, “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (v. 8) appeared to the aging apostle as he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos. The seven churches representing the church as a whole were about to come under intense persecution. They were to be encouraged by John’s vision of future events.

Even though the book of Revelation contains images which are horrific, it is still a book filled with God’s grace!

God will pour out His wrath in a last ditch attempt to say “repent … the end is near”! So, although people will suffer here on earth, they might spend eternity with Him. But sadly, many will still not repent, and will spend eternity separated from Him and burning in a “fire that shall never be quenched” (Mk. 9.43). Even though every mountain and island will be shaken and the sky itself will be rolled up like a scroll, some will still reject Him. Revelation 6.14-16:

14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! …”

The time is short. Share the truth this Christmas season.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Hosea 13 & 14:

A Stone of Stumbling

 

The book of Hosea ends with these words:

“For the ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.”

1 Peter 2.7-8 says, “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”

In today’s world you can talk about God as long as you leave it open-ended—“god as you understand him” some say. But when you talk about Jesus as “the Way and the only Way” (Jn. 14.6), you’ll be labeled narrow-minded and accused of trying to impose your religion on everyone else. He is “precious” to those who believe and a “rock of offense” to those who reject Him.

 

Psalm 140.1-5:

Sticks & Stones

 

throwing stones rocks

Verse 3, “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips.”

That childhood saying, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you,” is a lie. Words hurt and can continue to hurt for a lifetime unless we nail them to the cross and allow them to stay there. We do that by meditating on God’s forgiveness toward us and, with God’s help, choosing to extend that forgiveness to the one who Continue reading

“Are your words blessing or cursing?” November 22

 

finger pointing wordsBlessing or cursing: Are your words wholesome and edifying or critical and destructive? If someone had to describe what comes out of your mouth in one word, would your words be described as blessing or cursing?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 35 & 36
Psalm 131.1-3
Proverbs 29.2-3
James 3.1-18

 

Are your words blessing or cursing?

 

James 3.1-18:

The Tongue

 

arguing yelling

Oh, the tongue … how much damage we can do with that little member! Especially damaging is someone who claims to be a believer, and yet makes no effort to control his or her tongue.

“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh” (vv. 10-13).

If someone had to describe what comes out of your mouth in one word, would it be blessing or cursing? Bitter or fresh?

Ephesians 4.29 says:

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouths, 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” (NASB)

Unwholesome words are more than just vulgarity or using the Lord’s name in vain. According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word means “rotten, useless, corrupt or depraved.”

Merriam-Webster defines rotten as “decayed, bad, unpleasant or unhealthy.” Useless as “ineffectual or inept.” Unpleasant means “displeasing.” Corrupt means “tainted or morally impure” and depraved means “perverted.”

So certainly we need to put off any kind of speech that could be described by any of those adjectives, but it’s not enough to just quit saying things that fit those descriptions. We also need to put on speech that is, as Paul said in Ephesians 4.29, edifying and grace giving.  Continue reading

“Words & Attitudes Matter!” October 19

 

Attitudes MatterWords and attitudes matter! Whether we’re nagging or encouraging, praising or criticizing, they matter in our relationships with people.

Words and attitudes also matter in our relationship with God. Will we be patient and faithful in times of tribulation, as well as blessing, or will our praise quickly turn to anger and bitterness?

If we realize our words and attitudes need to change, where do we start?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 23 & 24
Psalm 119.17-24
Proverbs 27.15-16
2 Thessalonians 1.1-12

 

Words & Attitudes Matter!

 

Proverbs 27.15-16:

It Starts with the Heart

dripping faucet“A continual dripping … and a contentious woman are alike …”

Ladies, we need to understand what God is saying here about the power of our words and attitudes.

None of us lives in a perfect world. We have spouses and children, bosses and co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors who are imperfect. But we can choose how we’ll respond.

Will we be the women Peter encouraged us to be?

¹ In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (1 Pet. 3.1-4 NLT).

Will we choose to live the kind of lives that win others even without words (v. 1)? And when we do speak, will they be impacted by the purity and reverence of our lives (v. 2) or will they see a harsh, prideful heart?

Proverbs has a lot to say about the power of our words:

A gentle answer deflects anger,
    but harsh words make tempers flare.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
    but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. (Prov. 15.1-2 NLT).

Those who control their tongue will have a long life;
    opening your mouth can ruin everything (Prov. 13.3 NLT).

Some people make cutting remarks,
    but the words of the wise bring healing (12.18 NLT).

He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit (Prov. 17.27 NKJV).

Kind words are like honey—
    sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (Prov. 16.24 NLT).

The tongue can bring death or life;
    those who love to talk will reap the consequences (Prov. 18.21 NLT).

And what about our attitudes? As Peter reminded us in the passage we just read (v. 1), we communicate even when we’re not speaking.

Mockers are proud and haughty;
    they act with boundless arrogance (Prov. 21.24 NLT).

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16.18).

Ladies, how do we want our husbands and others to think of us? We have a choice. But if we want to reflect a godly attitude, if we want kind words to fill our mouths, we’ve got to start with our hearts. Jesus said:

“It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mk. 7.20-22).

What are you putting into your heart? God’s truth or worldly ideas?

On what do you meditate? On slights and hurts, things you wish you had, on all your husbands faults? Or do you cultivate gratitude, contentment, forgiveness, and grace?

It’s your choice and mine.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 23 & 24:

The Father’s Plan

As I read chapter 23, verses 5 & 6, I was reminded of Genesis 3 where right in the middle of pronouncing the curse that would come on Adam and Eve as a result of their sin, God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3.15). Right there in the garden, God gave them, and us, a glimpse of His plan to restore His creation to right standing with Him.

And here in Jeremiah 23, as He is pronouncing the consequences of Judah’s repeated disobedience, He promises to bring them back:

5 “ Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,

“ That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Another reminder of the coming of the promised Messiah—what a good and awesome God we serve! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8) and that was the Father’s plan from the beginning.

Another passage that is full of hope is 24.4-7: Continue reading

A Wise or Foolish Woman: The Tongue & Ears

 

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 2: The Tongue & EarsThe Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and its flip side, foolishness. In this series we’re looking at what it means to be wise and, by comparison, what it means to be foolish and how to recognize the difference.

 

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 2

The Tongue & Ears

 

woman of God

As I said in the first post (read it here), while I’m specifically addressing this to us as women, these truths are for everyone: young and old, men, women, and children.

 

wise woman

Our foundational Scripture is Proverbs 14.1  which says:

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

 

wisdom

Our working definition of wisdom is, “wisdom is the right application of truth.” It’s not only knowing the truth, but applying it to the everyday situations of our lives!

Today we’ll begin looking at some of the specific things God has to say about wisdom, beginning with “the tongue” and the ears, how well we listen.  Continue reading