May 11

Today's Bible Readings
     Numbers  20
     Psalms 58-59
     Isaiah 9:8-10:4
     James 3
''But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." (James 3:8)
     A well-known story tells of a man who went to his friend to apologize and seek forgiveness. He had slandered the name of his friend all over the community, telling people things that just were not true to harm his former friend. He felt bad about what he had done, and he had now come to his friend to apologize and to seek forgiveness. His friend then took a feather pillow and slit it open and went to the window. He shook it in the window and the feathers went to the four winds. He said, ''now go and gather up all the feathers and come back and let us talk some more." But the friend said, ''you know I can't do that. They are scattered everywhere. I could never gather all of them." His friend said, ''I accept your apology and I forgive you, but you can never bring back the damage you've done to my name." That's the way it is with the tongue.
     The tongue is a mighty force indeed. James, the Lord's brother, understood this as well as anybody in history and, through the use of graphic analogies; he has given us the most penetrating exposition of the tongue anywhere in literature, sacred or secular.
     He says we can use a bridle and bit with a 550 pound horse, and put a 100 pound girl who knows what she is doing on his back, and the animal can literally be made to dance, but we cannot control the tongue. A great ship can be steered by an amazingly small rudder, but we cannot control the tongue. The tongue has awesome potential for harm as the analogy of the fire tells us (James 5-6). At 9:00 one Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, poor Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over the lantern as she was being milked, starting the Great Chicago Fire. That disaster blackened 3 miles of the city, destroying over 17,000 buildings before it was checked by gunpowder explosions on the south line of the fire. The fire lasted two days and cost over 250 lives. We can extinguish the fire, but we cannot control the tongue.
     Having grabbed  our imaginations  with his  graphic  language,  James  adds  the  final touch,  ''and  is itself set on  fire by Hell." Here, the language means, ''continually set on fire." James used the same word  for Hell that his brother,  Jesus, used – “Gehenna” - derived  from the perpetually  burning  garbage  dump  outside Jerusalem,  a place  of fire and filth where, as Jesus said, ''the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched ." (Mark 9:48)
     Can you miss the point? The uncontrolled tongue has a direct pipeline to Hell. Fueled by Hell, it burns our eyes with its filthy fires. The tongue is indeed capable of producing verbal cyanide.  This verbal cyanide comes in many forms. gossip, innuendo, flattery, criticism, and profanity are only a few of the venoms with which Christians can inject each other, and the results are irreversible: toxic, gastric juices brew a devil's feast -the swill of souls.
     How then can the tongue be controlled and disciplined? Just as the tongue has the potential for evil, it has an awesome power for good.  Make a commitment today to discipline your tongue.    How is this done?
We must ask God to cauterize our lips.
Commit yourself to daily prayer regarding the use of your tongue
Resolve to discipline yourself in the use of the tongue.
     Today, loose your tongue to give Him praise and to share the glorious Gospel with a lost world.
     Peru is a South American country with more than 27 million people. It is amazing that many Christian workers and leaders have faced persecution and even martyrdom in this country. The persecution between 1980 -1994 was sometimes severe at the hands of both the terrorists and the army in areas of fighting over the cultivation of narcotics - each regarding the evangelicals as a threat. Over 750 evangelical leaders were martyred, and some sentenced to imprisonment on trumped up charges. But, as always, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and evangelical churches continue to grow in Peru. Pray for God's people and especially church leaders to have the courage to face whatever persecution may come to win their kinsmen to Christ.
''I believe knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without a Bible."
William Lyon Phelps