Mature Class Study, teacher Edith Tolbert.

God is to have a tried and tested people, whether we like it or not. God has chosen us to be in the furnace of affliction.

Isaiah 48:10-11  Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake…will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

When we get saved and  go on to be sanctified, we still have areas in our life that may not glorify God. Only in the furnace of testing will dross come to the top so you can see it. However long you’ve been saved, you may still have some dross.

Malachi 3:2-3 But who may abide the day of his coming?…for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier…and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

God is sitting beside your fire of affliction to skim off the dross because he wants your offering to be in righteousness to the Lord. What comes out of our mouth is vitally important.  What’s in the heart will come out of the mouth in hard trials.

Psalms 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

If your purpose of heart to not transgress with your mouth, you won’t blurt out criticism, fault-finding, sarcasm, putting down, gossiping. God hates sowing discord among the brethren. If things that don’t glorify God are coming out of our mouth, they need to be skimmed off. Only through hard trials will you see what’s inside so things can be skimmed off and you keep your mouth shut. David said he was purposed to not transgress with his mouth. James 1:2 says to “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations.” It’s not easy to go through hard trials. But God is teaching us so we count it all joy and glorify God. Trials will upset you if your focus is about what you like or don’t like and more on the material more than the spiritual. We won’t be able to count it all joy because things aren’t going the way we want. If we live only for the present and forget about the future, trials will make us bitter instead of better. We need to recognize God’s purpose in trials is to produce patience, longsuffering, forbearance, and forgiveness. Something is wrong if these are not coming out. None of us have an overabundance of patience. We’re still learning patience, longsuffering, and forbearance.

Matthew 12:34-37 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

An idle word is a careless word of anger, frustration, accusing or fault-finding or anything that doesn’t glorify God. Our words are going to be judged. That’s why David said he purposed in his heart to keep his mouth. We need to purpose in our heart that God will help us to have temperance and self-control about what comes out of our mouth. If you don’t have temperance and self-control, you will think “I’m human so I’ll just blurt out whatever.” But you don’t realize there are consequences. God is going to hold you accountable for every idle word that’s spoken out of the mouth.

II Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

When you have a literal thorn in your flesh, it’s irritating and you want to get it out. The apostle Paul was no different when he had his thorn in the flesh. It was bugging him and he asked God to remove it. You may be asking God to get you out of a trial instead of accepting it. God may answer you as he did Paul. God said no but that he’d give Paul grace. Paul completely turned around when God said “my grace is sufficient” for you. He said “most gladly therefore will I rather glory in infirmities.” He was counting it joy when he fell into temptations. The grace of God changed his attitude and will change our attitude. God’s grace is sufficient for every need when we come boldly to the throne of grace to find help. If we’re not controlling our mouth, it’s because we personally haven’t come to ask God for grace to control it. God wants us to control our tongue so it’s a blessing – instead of doing injury. We’ll count it all joy in trials instead of feeling sorry for ourself, murmuring, complaining, or finding fault. It’s our choice every day of how we respond and the attitude we have.

“Attitude” The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It’s more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what others think, say, or do. Attitude is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It makes or breaks a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing: we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace…It’s your choice what you embrace that day for your attitude. We cannot change the past. We cannot change…that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing that we can do is play the one string we have that is our attitude. I’m convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% on how I react to it. So it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.

Most of us like to ask God to change the circumstances like Paul asked God to remove the thorn. God’s not going to do that. He wants us to change our attitude so we can count it all joy. We can only do that if we come boldly to the throne to find grace to help in time of need. God wants patience, longsuffering, and endurance to come out of us in our trials. Do you react or respond to problems so life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% how you respond? Your response determines what you become. If you react out of anger or frustration, things will fly out of your mouth. But God wants us to think about how we respond so it’s pleasing to him. A reaction is instant behavior based fully on emotions and feelings at the moment. We all have emotions and feelings but the devil has access to them. A fool utters all his mind but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards (Proverbs 29:11). Responses come more slowly and involve thought. Responses will weigh long-term effects so they are what God wants. He wants to teach us to respond instead of reacting to problems out of emotion. Reactions to problems create chaos in life, so the problem is 10%. But it’s my attitude and my reaction to it that’s the 90%.

There’s a story about a cockroach. A gentleman went to a restaurant on a Saturday morning for breakfast. He sat down and had a cup of coffee as he looked at the menu. There were  three ladies and a gentleman at the table next to him. Suddenly one of the ladies jumped up and screamed “get it off of me, get it off of me. I can’t stand it, get it off of me.” She was jumping and screaming so there was lots of chaos. There was a cockroach on her blouse, then the cockroach flew over to the other lady and she continued the drama by getting up and screaming “get it off, get it off of me. I can’t stand this.” The waiter came and stood in front of her, wanting to know the reason for all the excitement and hysteria. The cockroach flew on his shirt. He looked down at the cockroach, didn’t jump up and down or flail his arms or scream. He just picked it up and threw it out the door. Was the cockroach responsible for all the drama? It was because the ladies couldn’t handle the situation. If there’s a lot of drama in our life, it’s because we’re not able to handle the problem and haven’t asked God for the grace to help. The waiter didn’t have any drama and took care of the problem. If there’s a lot of drama in your life, check if you’re asking God for grace. God’s grace is sufficient for every need and he wants us to respond in a pleasing way.

Colossians  4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt…know how ye ought to answer every man.

We need a prayer in our heart each morning for the Lord to give us grace our trials that day. We need grace so our speech is always with grace – instead of with upset, anger, frustration, finding fault, criticizing, or condemning. It isn’t God’s fault if we don’t have grace. God wants to give us grace in every situation. He gives us the fruits of the Spirit when we get saved and sanctified. Temperance or self-control is one of the fruits. Your spirit is your emotions and inner self that controls your actions. If you haven’t learned self-control, things will come out of your mouth that don’t glorify God. You will be vulnerable to saying and doing things contrary to what God wants in a holy life. We need to control our feelings so we only do what’s right.

Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

We’re all human so we have feelings and a personal spirit. God wants us to control our humanity. We’re like a city without walls and broken down if we don’t have any control. In Bible times, people in a city without walls were vulnerable to the enemy. We have no defense against the enemy if we don’t control ourselves. A wise man rules his thoughts and desires so he pleases God.

James 1:26 If any man…seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

Our tongue must be bridled by self-control. God says to keep our mouth and tongue so we keep our soul from trouble. It takes temperance and God’s grace to do it. God doesn’t want us to say everything we think, but to keep it until afterwards.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

One of Jesus’ characteristics was the self-control he had to keep his mouth shut when things came against him.

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

It pleased God to bruise him in trials and hard places. It proved he had control, self-discipline, and wanted to do God’s will.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

When the test actually finally came, Jesus controlled his mouth and didn’t open it to defend himself, find fault, criticize, or put down. God wants us to be able to control our mouth, to put a watch before it, and keep the doors of our lips. We have to ask God every day for grace to keep a watch over our mouth and lips so we you don’t say displeasing things.

Matthew 27:11-14 And Jesus stood…and the governor asked…Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said…Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate…Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled…

Moses was 120 years old and had led the Israelites through the wilderness 40 years. Miriam had just died. The people began to complain and find fault with Moses and Aaron. God was testing them to see what was in their heart. What’s in your heart will come out. Complaining and finding fault was in their heart. Moses and Aaron prayed every time the people found fault.

Numbers 20:3-8 And the people chode with Moses…saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water…Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle…and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. And the Lord spake…saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly…and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water…to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

God gave Moses specific instructions. Moses got irritated and spoke unadvisedly. Things came out of his mouth that God didn’t tell him to say. When you get angry, you’ll say things you never should. That’s why God wants us to have self-discipline.

Numbers 20:9-11 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And…gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said…Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand…smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

We all had a problem keeping our mouth closed when we first got saved. Only by prayer and asking God for grace before we feel irritated and things comes out of our mouth, will we get victory and have control over our mouth. God reprimanded Moses.

Numbers 20:12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

There was a consequences for disobeying. Later Moses prayed and asked God to let him go into Canaan. He kept asking until God finally told him no and not to speak about it again. He told Moses he was going to go up the mountain and die. He couldn’t go over because he spoke unadvisedly when he was angry. We are going to be held accountable for every idle word. That’s why we need to ask God to help us control our mouth. God wants thanksgiving to come out of our mouth.

Hebrews 13:15 By him…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually…the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

God wants us to count it all joy. Our attitude is important because it determines whether we react or respond. God  wants us to respond in a way that’s pleasing to him.