“Prophesy,” “Preaching,” OR… Just “Tittle-Tattle”?

Scripture Study:  Micah 2:1-12 

*NOTE: You will need to read these 12 verses before diving into the context of this study.

To “tittle-tattle” or not to “tittle-tattle”, that’s the question.

Let’s face it, the word “tittle-tattle” seems over the years lost its meaning and use.  I haven’t heard the term used in years!  So I think it’s a good thing to inform my readers about the meaning and the reason I have connected it to our scripture study.

“tittle-tattle” or to “prattle”:  “If you say someone ‘prattle on about’ something, you are criticizing them because they are talking a lot without saying anything important.”  [Collins English Dictionary]  Synonym: Iddle babble.

In this Old Testament reading in the Book of Micah, we can readily categorize the message into two major parts.

The prophet Micah’s Warning:

  1. Covetous Materialism, and…
  2.  Idle Prattle.

“Covetous Materials” – Wanting to have the most and the best!

We see and hear a lot of this, don’t we?  “Keeping up with the Jone’s,” is still prevalent today, even in our churches.  Always driving a fancy car, dressed in the finest, even casual wear will be the ‘good stuff.’  Is it because of the quality, or is it to be viewed with envy?

Micah’s Second Warning, “Prattle”

Most of you probably haven’t heard this word or ever used it in a conversation.  I’m dating myself, but I haven’t heard the term “tittle-tattle” since my grade school days.  It means idle, silly, almost meaningless talk.  We all are probably quilty prattling from time to time and spouting off on one thing or another only to dominate a conversation to be the center of attention not to share anything meaningful.  It reminds me of a scene out of the 1987 movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, a movie with much pathos, where Steve Martin’s character is reminding John Candy’s character of “meaningless talk.”

When God brought His people, the Israelites out of slavery to the Egyptians to the land of “milk and honey”. His plan was to give everyone special opportunities to prosper and live in peaceful concordance.

BUT, there are always a few that want more.

The Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:8-12)

The shrewdly found ways to amass fortunes on the backs of these pilgrims.  We’ve got to understand that God had laid out this plan for His people.

So as to guard against land barons, slum lords and a quasi-type of enslavement, a type of “sharecropping” or “owing to the company store”, the practice of Jubilee Year was set up.

I could spend a lot of time here on “The Jubilee”.  The year of Jubilee rolled around every fifty years.

  1. ALL DEBTS were canceled;
  2. ALL LIENS were deemed null and void;
  3. Properties held by owners were returned to the original owner.

In other words, ALL indebtedness was erased, and everyone got a “do-over”.

If only that was a modern-day practice, there would be a great number of very happy folks, I included!

There is a significance for today’s Christian in understanding the Jubilee, and here’s why:

Romans 5:6-11

John 6:28-29 (AMP)

[28]  They then said, “What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God?  [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?]

[29]  Jesus replied, “This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].

Our INDEBTEDNESS is paid in full…

Rescued from slavery (to sin) in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Of course, there are some that have sold themselves into slavery by worshipping materialism over God.

As to the reference of “tittle-tattle”, there are two ways to view this.

FALSE PROPHECY – false prophets will claim what they declare as facts as from God.  It becomes our responsibility to test the prophecy that we hear against Scripture which is our only means of assurance of the TRUTH.

Micah 2:6 (AMP)

“Do not preach, say the prophesying false prophets, one should not babble and harp on such things; disgrace will not overtake 8s [the reviling has no end].”

It’s so easy to listen to any speakers sharing philosophical points or opinions and know right off that his/her purpose is drawing attention to himself/herself rather than for the good of the gospel.  It can’t be said enough, “guard the gospel truth.”

The second form of “tittle-tattle” within the church is that of “tickling ears”.

Micah 2:11 and 2 Timothy 4:3

AND…

If the church service is more about entertainment and less about the gospel, a huge WARNING SIGN emerges.

We all love good “Praise and Worship” music on Sunday’s and it can be a very good form of worship.

However, CHURCH is the place for corporate prayer, confession of sins, and sharing God’s Word.  And this practice isn’t for just monthly Communion services.

Outside of the church, we need to refrain from inane and meaningless and harmful conversations.  God has a whole lot to say about that.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV)

[36]  “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  [37]  For by your words you will be acquited, and by your words, you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 5:4 (AMP)

Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people).

Colossians 3:8 (NIV)

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these:  anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Proverbs 10:13-14 (NIV)

[13]  Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

[14]  The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

These passages are but just a few among the great passages of Scripture on this subject.  If it wasn’t important, then there wouldn’t be so many teachings and warning for the Church to observe.

I would invite you to conduct your own private study.  The WWW (world wide web) offers countless resources.  Just be wary unless the sources are reputable, and the information is verifiable.

So What Are We Coming Away With From Micah?

NUMBER 1.  Guard that mouth and the words that flow from it.  Avoid lies, gossip, vulgar, vain, profane, ungodly talk.

Communication is a two-way process.  The good practice is to walk away before listening to those types of conversation.  There is plenty of wholesome clean humor and entertainment available without being a part of any that isn’t acceptable to God!

NUMBER 2.  We really do need to guard against covetous materialism.

Notice that I said “WE”.  There’s nothing wrong with having nice things IF we don’t flaunt them (Facebook, included) or acquire them by taking advantage of any less fortunate than ourselves.

Ask yourself exactly what you would do with the money, won in the lottery.  Sure, you would be very generous with helping others, reaching out to the poor, the less fortunate.  I truly believe that…But what I’m asking is, what will you spend on yourself, and why?

The “WHY” here is more important than the “WHAT!”

___________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Commentary:  Bible Hub – Micah 2:6; Studylight.org – Micah 2:11

Dictionary:  Collins English Dictionary.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); Bible translations used in photos taken from other translations from the text and noted.

Video:  Youtube – Planes, Trains, And Automobiles – Chatty Cathy Scene. 

Calculating the Cost 101

“The foundation supports the full weight of the structure” ; “The house foundation is the system on which the home sits”  (askthebuilder.com).

We are going to look today at what the Bible has for us when we begin the steps of “Calculating the Cost 101“:

“For which of you, wishing to build a farm building (a), does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it.  Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him,  Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish”   (Luke 14:28, 29, 30–Amplified Bible). [ a. James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary]

COUNTING THE COST

When any of us begin a project, at home, work or church, we count the cost.  We estimate whether or not we can afford to complete it.  Or at least we should do that before we begin.  Jesus gives us the example of building a tower or in the Amplified Bible “a farm building“.

If a man was not to count the cost, went ahead and started building the structure, and had to stop, he would be ridiculed.

LIVING IN THE KINGDOM

When people around you find out you are a Christian, and that’s a good thing, they are going to be watching you.  Just like the builder of this farm-house.  It’s not going to be easy “leaving” your old lifestyle for the things of God.

Let us say you are going to build a block of apartments in your community, rent them to people and make a lot of money.  It’s been your dream, your goal as you begin the project in faith.  You have a good job, you’re confident in arranging finances for the construction.  The bulldozers are lined up and the foundation begins to take form.

What if, in the middle of the project, suddenly you lose your job and you can’t pay the loan back?  Or if you projected a cost, then made a wrong calculation.  It says here in Luke 14:28, before you start something like this, sit down with proper accountants and cost analysts for the projection.  Because if you start putting up half a block of apartments, or a building or even a barn, and you stop building because of bad finances, everyone in the neighborhood is going to laugh at you.  You might say, “So what! I don’t care if they are laughing.”

Jesus was essentially saying that the Christian life in the Kingdom of God is like that.  If you decide to become a Christian, people are going to watch you; if you decide that it is too difficult, and you no longer have the enthusiasm to continue.  Over my Christian life and experiences, I have seen many foundation started without completed structures built upon the concrete footings. That’s not good for non-believers to witness.  God not only wants us to start something, He also wants us to finish it!  Remember Jesus’ disciple warning in Luke 14:27.

“QUALITY” FIRST THEN “QUANTITY”

In The Book of Acts, we see the same foundation of church building principles: “quality first, then quantity

“And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper].  They par-took of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all people”  (Acts 2:47–Amplified Bible).

There you are church!  Pick out the priorities, the principles of good foundation building in that quoted verse.

“and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved” (verse 47-b).

STEWARDSHIP IS A “RELATIONAL ISSUE”

Stewardship IS a relational issue between God and us and part of foundation:

“EXCEPT THE Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it”  (Psalm 127:1).

Let us not get so caught up in the building process that we forget whose in charge here; the real Builder of the foundation!  We are but “managers” or “stewards” in the process.

“But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it”  (2 Timothy 2:19).

The “of” is not subjective (i.e., consisting of the prophets and apostles), but objectively (i.e., “laid by the apostles, etc.).  So where am I going here?  I want to let you know, the foundation is NOT the church! Christ is the strong foundation on which the church is built upon:

“[Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others],  In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed”  (1 Timothy 6:18, 19–Amplified bible).

FINANCIAL PLANNING: BUILDING ON THE FOUNDATION

Having a well-designed budget protects us from making impulsive purchases.  It also protects us from misplaced priorities when there is no goal in mind.  We spend money where the pressure is the greatest.  An individual asks, “What is the biggest need; what is my strongest desire?”  Rather than, “What does the Lord want me to do with my income?”

Luke 14:27 says, “Whoever does not persevere [doesn’t quit] and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.”

Those who fail to plan often find that they have no funds left to accomplish the Lord’s will.  Believers may miss out on opportunities to help others, support missions and serve God in other ways when their finances are not in order.

FINANCIAL PLANNING PROTECTS US FROM INDEBTEDNESS

Some people get into trouble spending impulsively, running up their credit card balance.  Others occur debt because they fail to plan how to use their God-given resources.  In a typical month, they spend everything they earn!

When my wife and I were being raised in the 1940’s and 1950’s, our parents seldom or never spoke in front us about financial planning.  In Dianne’s house, her parents never spoke in front of her about financial planning; they paid “cash” for everything.  In my house, mom was the ‘budgeteer’, the ‘vacation planner’, the ‘wizzard of expenditures’.  She would explain how our family could afford a vacation that year; she would “Rob Peter to pay Paul”!  And no, that isn’t biblical!  She would later have to pay Peter back, but she knew exactly how to budget for it.  At the time, I thought she was amazing and she was!

A year after I was married in 1964, my mom asked Dianne, “Have you ever planned a budget before?”  Dianne knew that if something cost, you would need the income, the money to pay for it.  But an actual budget or financial plan? Her answer would be,”NO!”

I believe that a household financial plan or budgeted expense should be a mandatory curriculum; “Foundation Building 101” in high school before graduating.  Statistics say finances are the number one cause of divorce in this country.  Married couples argue more over money than any other subject; sex, child-rearing, etc. 

What is a ‘wisely planned budget’?  It sets aside money for future expenses!  Sounds easy doesn’t it?  Then how come people are budgeting in the negative; causing bankruptcy and failed businesses almost daily?

Bankruptcy filings actually declined this year, falling 11 percent for the first nine months of 2011.  However, filings reached more than 1.06 million thru September in 50 states and the District of Columbia.  How does those numbers happen?  Today, neighbors aren’t laughing at the bankruptcy filings but are wondering how they got in such a position.  Were they building on the wrong foundation to start with?  Maybe!

“(10)According to the grace (the special endowment for my task) of God bestowed on me, like a skillful architect and master builder I laid [the] foundation, and now another [man] is building upon it.  But let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it,  (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”  (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11; 12-14–Amplified Bible).

MOM’S BUDGETING EXAMPLE

My wife and I have been following this example for almost forty-seven years now; no computer, no accountant, just a practical, common sense tip to building on the foundation; calculating the cost

Mom had been taking care of my expenses; cashing my paychecks, paying my bills and giving me what was left, to do what I wanted to do [from the age of 17 to the age of 22].  Mom sat down at the kitchen table one day with my 20-year-old bride, a pencil and a sheet of paper.  Because I got paid every week, she divided the sheet of paper into four quarters.  We are using this Master Budget plan to this day except the paper is divided in half [paid twice per month].

Mom gave Dianne the amount of what I earned each week and what my expenses had been:

1.  Income

2.  Expenses: Rent, gasoline, food, utilities, insurances, etc.

She explained that our future rent should NOT exceed 25 % of our income.  Anything left over after paying the expenses could be considered “extra” spending money.  That was the master plan!

Over our married life, there were times there wasn’t anything “extra” left over; lost income to unemployment, children’s needs, etc., etc….But, we stuck to the budget!  It’s hard not to want extra things in your family but you have to calculate the cost before spending what you don’t have!.  As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail!”  Here is another cliché:  “If you throw darts and aim at nothing, you will hit nothing every time!”

The apostle Paul reminds us and encourages us by saying,

“May the God of your hope so fill you with ALL JOY and PEACE in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.    Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with ALL [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also”  (Romans 15:13-14–Amplified Bible).

Here is your chance to begin calculating the cost of building on a strong foundation; laying up “a good foundation for the future” (2 Timothy 2:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:19). 

Don’t be like the man who is remembered by his mistake of not building on a strong foundation of Christ Jesus:

“This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish”  (Luke 14:30).