The Beauty of the Breastplate (2)

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‘We have a great High Priest… Jesus the Son of God.’ Hebrews 4:14 NLT

Notice two more things about the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest:

(1) It was close to his heart. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, he went into the ‘Holiest of Holies’ where God’s presence was, in order to obtain forgiveness for the people’s sins. And he wore different things, each signifying different truths. But of all the garments he donned, the breastplate was the closest to his heart. This speaks of how much God loves and values you, and His desire to be close to you. Today He’s saying to you: ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]’ (Hebrews 13:5 AMPC) What a wonderful promise!

(2) The name of each tribe was not merely written on the breastplate, but engraved on it (see Exodus 39:14). When something is written, it can be erased or accidentally blotted out, but not when it’s ‘engraved’. There are two ways you can sin. First by deliberately choosing to, and second by stumbling through weakness. And God will chastise and correct you in order to get you back onto the right path, but He will never turn His back on you or throw you away. No, you’re too precious to Him.

He remembers the price He paid for you and He says, ‘I will not blot out [your] name from the Book of Life.’ (Revelation 3:5 NKJV) As long as you are trusting in Christ, you can be sure of God’s love and acceptance.

The Beauty of the Breastplate (1)

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‘Twelve stones… engraved… according to the twelve tribes.’ Exodus 39:14 NKJV

As you look at the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priest, you see how precious you are in God’s eyes as His redeemed child. The Bible gives us very detailed information about what the high priest wore, and there are no insignificant details in God’s Word.

As we examine this breastplate we see something wonderful about the way the Lord sees us. There were twelve stones on it, each with the name of one of the twelve tribes. And since Jesus is our great High Priest, let’s look at this breastplate and see what we can learn. These were precious stones. God didn’t use common rocks and pebbles found in abundance in Israel; He chose the most costly, rare and precious gems such as sapphire, topaz, emerald, amethyst, diamond, onyx and jasper to represent us. Note the word precious. The Bible says you are ‘precious’ in God’s sight (see Isaiah 43:4). It also says that you were redeemed with the ‘precious’ blood of Jesus (see 1 Peter 1:19).

How do you establish the value of something? By the price someone is willing to pay for it. So here’s a truth you must keep in mind when you have blown it and Satan is condemning you because of your sins and shortcomings. With full knowledge of all your sins—past, present, and future—God loves you so much that He sent His Son to redeem you by shedding His precious blood. And as long as you are trusting in Christ, your value in God’s eyes never diminishes. Why does God think you are precious? Because at all times He sees you ‘in Christ’.

Use Words Befitting A Christian

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‘The lips of the righteous know what is fitting.’ Proverbs 10:32 NIV

When George HW Bush was running for president of the United States in 1988, he admitted he’d made an inappropriate remark about American journalist Dan Rather and White House correspondent Lesley Stahl after an on-air confrontation.

Bush referred to Rather in an unprintable term, and also took God’s name in vain in speaking about the Columbia Broadcasting System. When confronted, he said, ‘If I’d known the microphone was on, I wouldn’t have taken the Lord’s name in vain, and I apologize for that.’ The fact is, he shouldn’t have said it whether the recorder was on or not.

Remember, God’s recorder is always on! The Bible says, ‘A man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths.’ (Proverbs 5:21 NIV) Centuries ago Jesus declared: ‘There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.’ (Luke 12:2–3 NIV)

Take a moment and consider these two Scriptures:

‘The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.’ (Proverbs 15:28 NIV)

‘The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.’ (Proverbs 10:32 NIV)

The first Scripture tells you that a wise person will think before he or she speaks, because they realize every word has a consequence. The second Scripture tells you that a righteous person automatically knows what’s acceptable, and keeps in mind the fact that God hears every word.

‘To Thine Own Self Be True’

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‘A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor.’ Proverbs 21:6 NIV

It’s easier to maintain your integrity than to regain it. It may cost you to do the right thing, but it will cost you more to abandon your principles. ‘Like a bird hatching an egg it did not lay, so are… people who get rich by cheating. When their lives are half finished, they will lose their riches. At the end… it will be clear they were fools. ’ (Jeremiah 17:11 NCV)

In 1994 golfer Davis Love called a one-stroke penalty on himself during the second round of the Western Open. He moved his marker out of the path of another player’s putting line; then later he couldn’t remember if he’d moved his ball back to its original spot. Since he wasn’t certain, he gave himself an extra stroke. And that one stroke caused him to be eliminated from the tournament.

At year’s end Love was $590 short in winnings to automatically qualify for the Masters, and needed to win a tournament to get into one of golf’s most coveted events. Fortunately, the story ends well. The week before the big event he qualified by winning a tournament in New Orleans, and went on to earn $237,600 by finishing second in the 1995 Masters.

Later, when asked how he’d have felt if he’d missed the Masters because of calling a penalty on himself, Love replied, ‘The question is how I’d have felt if I’d won and spent the rest of my life wondering if I’d cheated.’

In the words of Shakespeare: ‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’

Let Go Of Your Past

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‘Do not call to mind the…past. Behold, I will do something new.’ Isaiah 43:18–19 NIV

Comedian Jerry Lewis joked that his best wedding gift was a film of the ceremony—because when things got really bad in his marriage he could go into a room by himself, run the film backwards, and walk out a free man! We smile, but you can’t go back and rewrite history any more than you can unscramble an egg. When you dwell on the past it’s always at the expense of the future, but when you learn from the past it has the potential to make your future better.

Whenever you find yourself saying, ‘If I knew then what I know now,’ remind yourself that unless you grow you’ll be saying the same thing ten or twenty years from now. You say, ‘If only I’d been willing to forgive my spouse instead of doling out punishment, maybe I could have kept my marriage together and built a great relationship.’ Maybe you struggle with the memory of an abortion, wondering about the child who might have been and the joy he or she might have brought. Perhaps you’re a good person who did a bad thing and ended up with a criminal record; now you’re saying, ‘If only…’

Well, here’s what God says:

(1) ‘Your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.’ (1 John 2:12 NLT)

(2) ‘I… will blot out your sins for My own sake and will never think of them again.’ (Isaiah 43:25 NLT)

(3) ‘Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth…’ The word for you today is: let go of your past.

Anger Management (5)

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‘Those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.’ Proverbs 11:13 NLT

If you’re serious about managing your anger, here are two things to keep in mind:

(1) Don’t hang out your dirty laundry in public. Keep it in the laundry room. When you’re hurt and angry, spreading gossip about your offender comes naturally. Don’t do it. The Bible says, ‘A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.’ Dirty laundry generally gets aired in two ways:

(a) Embarrassment: you say things when you know others will hear them.

(b) Subtlety: you make jokes about their appearance, their friends and family, their personal hang-ups and habits in order to belittle them. This results in embarrassment for the other person, widens the gap between you, and makes reconciliation virtually impossible. The Bible says, ‘Love covers all sins.’ (Proverbs 10:12 NKJV)

(2) Don’t act in an un-Christlike way. For example, don’t say, ‘He brought it on himself, so let him get over it.’ That may be true, but as a follower of Christ, don’t walk away and leave wounds to fester and become infected. ‘Forgive… just as God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32 CEV) How did Christ forgive you? Was it after you’d acknowledged, confessed, repented, and earned grace? No.

Paul says, ‘When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.’ (Romans 5:10 NKJV) Just as God took the initiative, you are called to extend grace to other people before they ask for forgiveness. And even if they choose to remain your enemy, you must forgive them anyhow. Only then will you have peace, your wounds will be healed, and you will be able to put it behind you.

Anger Management (4)

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‘Don’t use… abusive language.’ Ephesians 4:29 NLT

The Bible says: ‘Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.’ (Ephesians 4:29–30 NLT) Notice, when you lash out in anger you not only hurt the other person, you grieve the Holy Spirit. Have you considered that? As followers of Christ we’re called to try to understand what the other person needs. That means not bringing up previously confessed offenses, dragging in other people, or using wisecracks about someone’s weight, color, IQ, or physical, mental and emotional limitations. Don’t bring up things that cloud the issue and keep you from finding a solution. And don’t raise the decibel level in order to intimidate or manipulate. God made you with a capacity for anger because, when handled right, it can be the fuel needed to bring positive change and the medicine that heals. So:

(1) Seek a solution, not a ‘victory.’ Name-calling and ‘diagnosing’ others just makes things worse. Your focus shouldn’t be on what they did, but what you can do together to resolve it.

(2) Acknowledge your flaws and ask for forgiveness. Admitting your imperfections makes it easier for the other person to admit theirs.

(3) For every difficulty you address, give a sincere compliment. Instead of criticizing, try saying, ‘I’m sure this wasn’t easy for you to hear. Thanks for listening to me so graciously.’

Being solution-focused instead of blame-focused gives people something to live up to, not down to.

Anger Management (3)

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‘Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.’ Luke 6:45 NIV

What you store on your computer’s hard drive can be recalled with a few clicks. Jesus said: ‘The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart… the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.’ And when you download old resentments you grow bitter. When you’re angry, deal with it quickly. Don’t walk around on a ‘slow boil’. And don’t sit around hoping the other person will see the light and apologize to you. What if they never do?

Jesus said, ‘If your brother wrongs you, go and have it out with him at once—just between the two of you. If he will listen to you, you have won him back.’ (Matthew 18:15PHPS) What do you value most—your point of view, or the relationship? When you ‘stuff’ your anger and refuse to deal with the issue in a healthy way, you add another skeleton to your emotional closet. Imagine what that does to you.

Some doctors say resentment eats at your stomach lining, attacks your immune system, and predisposes you to heart problems, cancers, and other physical, social, and emotional disorders. And that’s not all! It preoccupies your mind, drains your energy, and cripples your creativity. It strains your fellowship with God, your family, and friends, as well as denying your offender an opportunity to clear their conscience and make things right with God and with you. Until you deal with the issue, you’ll drag it around like a ball and chain. Refuse to live that way! Ask God for the humility and courage to deal with the issue—today.

Anger Management (2)

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‘My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak right things.’ Proverbs 23:16 NKJV

When it comes to practicing anger management, here are two important Bible principles:

(1) Don’t blame people and things. Blaming is a way of evading responsibility while pointing your finger elsewhere. ‘If only you’d arrive on time, I wouldn’t have to nag you,’ or ‘If you’d stop nagging me, maybe I’d start being on time.’ Words like that don’t help, they just antagonize the other person, perpetuate your anger, and fail to get the results you want.

(2) Don’t use words as weapons or a form of control. Instead keep your emotions in check and express them in a healthy way. Remember, your goal is to solve the problem and strengthen the relationship, not leave wounds that fester. Is this easy to do? No—that’s why you need God’s help. The Bible says that your words can crush the other person’s spirit (see Proverbs 18:14), break their heart (see Proverbs 15:4), and destroy the relationship (see Proverbs 18:21). Solomon said that angry words ‘go down to a man’s inmost parts.’ (Proverbs 26:22 NIV) What you say can live in the memory of another person their whole life—all the way to the grave. Is that what you want?

Surely not!

On the other hand, anger properly managed never needs to be regretted or repented of. Learn to discern the difference between the anger you feel and the words you speak. Anger can reveal what needs to be changed in the relationship. So ask God to show you what needs changing—first in yourself, then in the other person.

Anger Management (1)

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‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Ephesians 4:26 NLT

Here’s a Bible plan for growth that includes anger management: ‘Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil… Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them… Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.’ (Ephesians 4:23–32 NLT)

God gave you every emotion you have, including anger. But He wants you to handle it the right way. Note the words ‘let us… tell the truth’. When you’re angry, instead of denying it, use it to bring about positive change. Saying, ‘I’ve been feeling angry because I value our relationship and I’d like to talk about it,’ brings healing and solutions. Pretending you’re not angry when you are is basically dishonest. So is exaggeration. ‘You never listen to me… You always ignore my wishes… Nobody does anything around here except me.’ Such generalizations are untrue and serve only to aggravate and polarize, guaranteeing the problem gets obscured and goes unsolved.

God’s will is for you to control your anger rather than letting your anger control you.