Mud Slinging

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Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

When I was a little girl, my family spent a great deal of time at the beach. My grandmother and I would sit on the edge of the surf where the water’s edge would almost reach us and the sand was wet to build sandcastles. It was there she taught me to create “drip” castles. Taking a handful of saturated sand, holding it up and letting it drip – you create a sandcastle by moving your hand around to create a monument. It almost resembles a mountain with tall peaks resembling turrets. I have been thinking lately if our words may be the very essence of some of the mountains in our life. Words thoughtlessly released or aimed directly at another that hardened into doubt or even offense. I wonder if the dripping sarcasm or biting dissatisfaction is weighting down the very thing that we are requesting the Lord to remove.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing” is a tall order. Our life is built around convenience, comfort and control. When one of these three are threatened, our pride and selfishness quickly work to construct the foundation as to not interrupt these “vital” necessities of life. Crying out to the Lord to move a mountain, but then firmly packing it in place with words thought to be idle and careless maybe just a release only to stand in frustration before the insurmountable thing which we cannot seem to overcome. What does your mountain look like? Is it made of grumbling, complaining and constant whining?

Pure and blameless” faith comes from a heart that is confident in God’s Salvation and Sovereignty. His Ability to now only save you but sustain you in life. Faith, even in the smallest measure, will move any mountain. I wonder if our faith is being choked out or suffocated by a barrage of worthless banter. If I am complaining about my life as a Child of God, I am telling the world that He is simply not enough. I am confirming their doubt that He is not a saving God full of unconditional love and amazing grace. I am actually feeding the darkness rather than creating new light.

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light of the world now lives in us. Is He shining brightly today? Are you confident that He lives in you and works through you? Do you believe that the Lord is working every detail of your life for good as the Word of God tells us in Romans 8:28? Reading just a little further, are you confident that nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God and that you have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ? See if we believed, our conversation would change. Our way of conversation would shine brightly with confidence that His Love is enough to overcome the mountain of doubt rather than constantly fortifying doubt with mud-slinging words and negative connotation. We give our God and His Son a bad reputation when our words and heart are out of alignment.

Luke 6:45 (NIV) A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Jesus said, “I tell you that everyone will give account on the day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” What is your daily conversation? Do you listen to the words coming out of your mouth each day? God does. He judges us for the abundance of idle and worthless words that are empty. God has filled us with good fruit. His Spirit gives us the ability and abundance to pour out for others. Love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, of course, self-control. Did you think it was for you? The generosity of God is poured into us to be released into the darkness of this world and fill it with the Light of His Love. To feed the hungry physically, emotionally and spiritually with the Word of our testimony. Seed left in the silo will not grow it must be put in fertile ground to grow, develop, mature and reproduce. What is your testimony today? In Revelation, it tells us that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb AND the Word of our testimony? What are you saying about the Lord? Grumbling, complaining, and negativity are born of a hard heart that has not discovered the satisfaction born of faith and hope. Has fear, doubt and anxiety filled your heart with negativity and doubt?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” It is my responsibility to monitor the words flowing from my lips. Fresh water cannot come from a salty or even stagnant pond. My words should build and not destroy. Build others up. Build my faith in God. Build a solid foundation of faith rather than adding weight the mountain I am trying to overcome. Faith-full words speak things not yet seen into existence welcoming God’s Spirit to do His Work, not grieving Him, but rather moving “me” out of the way. Bitterness is the root choking out the goodness God is doing in us and through us when we decide that His Word, Will or Way is not for us. It is absolutely for you. Faith makes the unseen hope we have a reality. It moves mountains of doubt out of the way so that we can become one with Christ enjoying all of His Benefits, Promises and Prosperity.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Today I must consider the conversations I will have and monitor closely my communication with others. Every word I speak is important as it tells of the contents of my heart. I have some mountains still to be removed. I have some doubt that must be washed away with the Word. When building drip castles on the beach, I did not see the significance of the lesson the Lord would teach me in that moment. “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

My grandmother is in Heaven with Jesus now. I miss her every day. Soon it will be my turn to build drip castles on the beach with my grandson, I want my conversation be filled with faith that will build him into a mighty man of God – full of life and favor. I must first build that kind of heart in me. I cannot share a faith I do not own for it is not mine to give. My Gram introduced me to Jesus and I hope to have the same privilege with him one day building sandcastles on the beach. Until then, it is up to me to take captive every thought contrary to faith before it leaves my mouth and cast it back where it came from. To allow the Water of the Word to wash away fear and doubt just as high tide melts sandcastles along the beach. It is important in overcoming the fears, doubts and insecurities that compromise my faith and hinder my hope to take make sure my heart and mouth agree on a daily basis. It is no easy task but always well worth the effort. Mud-slinging words filled with complaining and grumbling feel way better leaving me but then harden into yet another weight keeping my mountain from budging an inch much less melting in the sea. We must put away childish conversation and speak the words of our Father each day.

Lord, let every word I speak be pleasing to you. Pull out every root of bitterness and plant a new seed of faith in the void left behind. Strengthen my heart and remind my soul that you are my confident hope. I have new life in you, Jesus and Your Promises are for me. I give You my heart, mind, soul and body to you again. Lord, use me and my words to bring You glory today. You are worthy of it all.

Revelation 12:10-12 (NIV) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!

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Set A Guard

broken-gate

Psalm 141:2-3 (NKJV) Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

If only the Holy Spirit had a hand to carefully yet firmly put over my mouth day in and day out. To keep me from releasing commands into the atmosphere. Oh the idle words that never need to be spoken. Words hold power. Life and death is in the tongue. It is the most difficult to restrain. Caught in the crosshairs of our mind, will and emotions as our heart tries to edit each one spoken before it is released. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

James 3:4-6 (NKJV) Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Everyone has words that they wish they could take back. Tiny sparks released into a dry atmosphere if withheld would have stopped mass destruction. The tongue is such a small part of our body yet the hardest to control. It is important that our tongue remains under our strict control. Each world carefully weighed and contemplated compared to Christ. We must speak His Word. Say what He said. Otherwise, there is a real danger of destroying people or causing them to turn away rather than embrace the Love of God evident in His Word. His Word is sweeter than honey. It is desirable. It is good for you. Communication is for edification. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV) A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The fruit of our mouth feeds our mind, will and emotions. The words that flow from our lips are evident of the abundance of our heart. Our heart must agree with our words and our words should be in alignment with the meditation of our heart. The things spoken in private should be our declaration in public. We must feed our heart and mind good things in order to produce good fruit. The Word of God nourishes our mind. It feeds our thoughts. It produces the kind of speech and communication that God desires of His People. The power of death and life are given to me as Christ lives in me. I bind heaven and earth with the words that I speak and if not carefully chosen they can have a dire effect. Therefore…Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

It is my personal responsibility to filter the contents of my speech. It is my soulful duty to control my tongue. I will be held accountable for every single word released from my person. (Matthew 12:36) The words that come flowing out are for my good or can be to my detriment. The Word of God is clear. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. Lord, forgive me for all the times that rotten fruit came flowing out. People are people. They are just as imperfect as I am. Father forgive them and please Lord forgive me for all my faults and failures. Make me conscious of the words that I speak right down to those I say to myself when no one else is listening. You are always listening. My words are for edification of others and to impart grace. My tongue is not a weapon of mass destruction. It should be used to build others up not tear them down. It should always give freely grace, love, mercy and kindness as a reflection of the same that I have received from you. Lord and on those days when I have nothing nice to say, let me take the advice of my elders who told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NKJV) So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

God has a plan and purpose for our life. One written from the beginning that began with our birth. It is a good one with a future and hope. I wonder how many times it is hindered by unfiltered words and unworthy mandates released in our life fortified by pride or driven by bitterness. His Grace is enough even to cover all the idle, careless or harmful words released each day. It is up to me to apply grace to the words that I speak. Lord, I am undone. I am a woman with unclean lips. I have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts, and the King of Glory. Lord, I ask you to cleanse my lips today. Lord, forgive me for idle or angry words released carelessly around me. I long to fulfill your purpose for my life. It is not dependent on other people. It is solely according to living my life in alignment with you, Jesus. My mouth is for your praise and glory. Remind me of that today. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 71:8 (NKJV) Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your Glory all the day.

 

The Complaint Department

The Complaint Department

Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…

Like vines and brush across a narrow path, I tried to step over it but tripped instead. The last several weeks have been trying. As potential begins to yield purpose, and breakthrough is just around the corner – opposition always rises up. With come the words hard to swallow, the complaints and grumbling of our flesh with deep offense at the conditions of life or circumstances surrounding us. It is a bitter pill to swallow laced with pride and indignation. Peter gave in to it from time to time and as one of the most vocal disciples it creeps up in the Bible’s text. In John 19:27, Peter in a sharp discussion with the Lord says these words, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Unmet expectation is the faith stealing, joy killer and hope buster that is problematic for many believers. When God does not do it the way one thinks that He should, or perhaps when we think He would or even worse according to our idea of how it should have been done. I have given up everything to follow you Jesus now this… ever feel that way? I do sometimes when I let complaining take over my life.

For God is working in you… I was talking to a gentleman about to undergo radiation therapy for cancer. He knows that our son also had extensive radiation. Talking with him, I did not want to create an unrealistic expectation of the treatment. It is an excellent weapon against cancer. It starts off relatively painless just a bit of a sensation inside. Over time as the therapy progresses, it begins to work its way from the inside of the pinpoint laser delivering it to manifest on the outside. It can cause the surface of the skin to have symptoms that rise up from the inside where the radiation is concentrated. There may be some collateral damage. Most importantly with any type of cancer therapy, because they are all unpleasant, it is important to stay focused on the goal. Remission. A clean PET scan. An extension of our natural life. We must always keep our eyes on the destination because there will be obstacles along the way if the journey is worth the outcome. As God works inside of us, our flesh dies. I used to say at the gym, “Sweat is the tears of fat slowly dying.” If you have given the Lord permission, invited Him to work things out in your life for His Good and Glory, expect your situation to change. Know that He is changing you. It may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Friend, it is always, always worth it.

“Giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him…” I want to please the Lord with my natural life. Some do and some don’t. Some will actually pass on eternal life because of the fear of letting go of some things here and not being satisfied with the outcome. Why must the Lord change my desire? Because I will always want less than He has for me, settle for substitutions, and in the name of comfort compromise. It is my nature. I must change the way that I think, move, breathe and exist to allow the God inside of me to make His Way out into my life. It all begins inside of me. Big gulp…the hardest part comes next.

“Do EVERYTHING without grumbling or complaining.” Ugh! There it is – spoiler alert – it is a Biblical mandate on my life to stop grumbling and complaining. God knows every detail of my life even when this passage was written centuries before my birth. He knew me and supplied all the grace and power necessary for me to overcome every obstacle thanks to the Christ in me. The pressures of life often give way to complaining. I will be the first to admit – I have been complaining about my job a lot lately. I love my job. It is a good position. However, it has been an exceptionally tough season with a gigantic transition. It is not going to last a short time but is clearly going to be awhile before things come together and are in order. The extreme conditions make complaining seem natural and acceptable…for some. I am not of this world. The Power in me is far greater than any circumstance or situation in my life. Do my words express His Power or give precedence to my problem?

James 3:2 (NLT) For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James 3:8-12 (NLT) But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

In our last house, there was a swimming pool. One step in caring for the pool was testing the water to make sure the chemicals were just right and favorable for swimming. When there was a great deal of rain, it would wash pollen and other naturally occurring substances into the pool creating a high phosphate level that required special treatment. It was more expensive than other chemicals but necessary to keep the water clean and clear. The home test kits did not pick up the level of phosphates. It would be discovered by the chemical analyzer at the pool store. The professionals would have to find it and give me the proper treatment. In life, rain is going to fall. Storms will come. The atmosphere of our life is not always favorable. Let’s face it. Bad things happen to good people. It is important that in such conditions – we test the content and quality of our conversation. What are we saying? Who are we saying it to? Are my words filled with life or death? Praise or contempt? Who are they directed at? The Word of God is the litmus test of life for the believer. It guides, instructs and teaches us the knowledge needed to apply to our life and create wisdom. Wisdom is the lifestyle of those who are blessing and prosperous. When I decide that I am dissatisfied with my life, I am telling God that He is not meeting my expectations or doing a good job. No one else. My life belongs to Jesus Christ. If it is not what I think it should be, He is the One responsible to change it. Not my family, my friends, my boss or coworkers – Jesus is the One.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

If the Word of God concerning my life is true and if Jesus truly is set on giving me a rich and satisfying life while doing more than I can even think to ask for, it is all about the waiting. He has given a place of refuge and peace to wait in called the watchtower. I stand guard over my heart in that place by filtering my words through the Word of God and listing His Promises not my problems. It is the place where my vision aligns with His Perspective rather than focusing on the conditions of life as I know it. I see through eyes of faith the confident hope that I have in Him. The kind of hope that never leads to disappointment and is worth waiting for. Impatience in the waiting gives way to grumbling and complaining. Complaining sows seeds of doubt and fear that become bitterness if continually fed with more grumbling. Pride feeds on the harvest of complaining and suddenly it gives way to wandering and disobedience as one decides if it’s going to happen then I must do it myself.

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel complained about freedom and wanted to go back into slavery. Fear of the unknown will often compel us back to what is known. Don’t go. There was a group of Levites who did not like their position in ministry, so they complained to Moses. Shortly after, the ground opened, swallowing them and all their possessions. Complaining will forfeit our new life in Christ to become absorbed by the world and worldly things that bring temporary satisfaction rather than long-term completion. In Nehemiah, Judah gave way to complaining. The ones who led worship were tired and let others know. Who would lead the worshippers if the praise team quit? Job of all people felt the right to complain. (Job 6) But in Job 10, Job has reached an all-time low and says, “I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. Complaining always sows seeds of bitterness. Every time you utter the slightest dissatisfaction in your condition in Christ, it is a seed that must be dealt with.

When our son was undergoing radiation, about two-thirds of the way through his skin began to “break down”. This means that the heat of the radiation burning away the cancer was also destroying his skin. Our middle son is extremely fair. His skin turned a bright red and one morning just started to break open with intense heat rising from the wounds. I will not gross you out with details or descriptions but all I could think of as I attempted to offer comfort and apply the ointment was he has every right to complain. I told him that very thing and he said to me, “Mom, what good would it do if I complained? Would it make cancer go away? Would it make the pain stop? Would it do anything for me? No. So I am not going to complain because it will do no good.” Such profound words from an unsuspecting college student thrust into a life uncertain. I will never forget that moment when my heart broke open and I asked the Lord to forgive my wayward and wandering heart. I needed the coal from His Altar to touch my lips that complained about the hard bed with the plastic cover that was a bit uncomfortable. Lesson learned.

Your life may not be extreme today. Just filled with “ordinary” problems and some “inconvenient” problems, what you do with such opportunities are game changers in life. Complaining does nothing but complicate things. It is unclear our position. Our heart begins to waver uncertain of its commitment. Soon our thoughts give way to discouragement and then disappointment not of God but to whom we give all credit. Take your right hand. Put it firmly over your mouth. Say with me, through your tight clasped fingers, “Holy Spirit, filter my words for life today and remove any foul thing among them. Teach me your vocabulary to replace my doubt-filled vernacular. Give me wisdom to speak your praise when I want to grumble and complain. Let me see the Face of Jesus rather than focusing on the giants today.

“Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…”

Micah 6:1-3 (NLT) Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints. And now, O mountains, listen to the Lord’s complaint! He has a case against his people. He will bring charges against Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me!

The Lord invites you to His Complaint Department today. The watchtower is open. It is a waiting room. It is His Presence. The place to leave all unmet expectation so the Lord can complete His Good Work uninterrupted by fear or doubt but pushed on by our faith in His Faithfulness. Our words should always express allegiance to Jesus Christ. Complaining and grumbling gives glory to a weak and inattentive god who doesn’t exist rather than an all-powerful, ever-present and always on-time God who is good and gives His Glory to His Children. What will you do with your words today? Life and power are in the tongue. It is up to you to decide how to use it. In His Presence, there is a new perspective. When His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness make it into our thick and hard hearts, suddenly there is very little to complain and grumble about because He is enough to change our heart and mind. God you are good! Help me to silence complaining and dismiss it from my life. You are a Good God. You are more than enough!

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

Monday

Monday

Psalm 100 (NLT) Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

How does come so quickly? Five days seem to drag by yet two pass in a flash of light. The weekend is over and Monday is here. Ugh! Rocking in the chair on the front porch, I really needed to take a broom to the pollen and spider webs. Instead, I just rocked watching my husband plant the lovely hydrangeas that were my gift for Mother’s Day. As he worked, I thanked him for my coveted plants. He had been asking for weeks what I wanted, and finally I decided I wanted them. Are you sure? Yes, I am absolutely positive. As I sat there in the afternoon breeze, I knew that I had made the right choice. Their position in the bed was perfect. Morning sun and then partial shade. The soil remained moist which is their favorite. They would grow and fill the area just outside the dining room windows. I wondered what color the flowers might be. Hydrangeas don’t all bloom the same color but it is not because of the variety but rather the pH level of the soil. I wanted to just sit there in that chair and watch the flowers grow. But I knew in my heart all good things must come to an end because tomorrow would be Monday.

Sundays are my favorite days when we worship the Lord together. Fellowshipping with other believers. Finding new seeds of Truth to plant in our hearts growing into purpose as God designed. It goes by so fast and quickly I am thrust back into the rat race of this world. Work has been a challenge lately. Just the thought of the week ahead makes me want to avoid it at all costs. It also seems as though the last several weeks, the enemy has paid particularly close attention to my every move. As if in a game of Mario Kart, I am just tooling along in my little race car while all the other opponents throw everything but the kitchen sink in my way. To spin me out. Make me crash. Give up my joy. Relinquish my peace. I want to win the race that I am in. I want to claim the prize that Christ Jesus has called me to. So this morning, as usual, He meets me with mercy and provides more grace with a word for my life that will changes things – if I allow it in my heart and to rise up out of my mouth.

Shout with joy. Worship the Lord…with gladness. Come before Him…singing. Acknowledge that He is Almighty God. Creator of all things – caretaker of the same. Take full advantage of the access I have into His Presence – go to Him rather than waiting on Him to come to me. Give thanks. Praise Him. For the Lord is good…He is always good. His Unfailing Love and Grace never, ever run out so His Goodness is always available to me. Right here. Right now. It comes as peace and inexpressible joy to those who seek Him. In Christ alone I find that all the impending problems are disguised lies for God is with me and I will not fail.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We must learn to make our mouth and heart agree. There are many times, our head says one thing while our heart strives to believe another. Such disagreement will never provide the peace everyone longs for. To be of one mind and one spirit. Isn’t that what our purpose is in life? To be one with Christ – to live and move in Him. To count everything else as “garbage” compared to just knowing Jesus. Yet, we allow stinking thinking to sometimes muck up our conversation and words of doubt and discontentment begin to form and fall out of our mouth. I was made to praise the Lord. My mouth was created for worship. It is to declare God’s Glory in good times and even on bad days. My confession should reflect a heart in covenant with Jesus Christ. As Ruth to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.” Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

The Presence of God is an absolute necessity in our life each day. When Jesus died on the Cross and released His Spirit, the very first thing that He did was rip the veil or curtain that separated mankind from the Living God from top to bottom. This was no small set of draperies. The Lord made it clear that His Intention was not to be a God who is far away or distant. He wants us to come to Him. Romans 12:1-2 talks about being a living sacrifice. To give up our bodies or natural life including desires and inclinations to be one with the Lord. Why? Because of all that He has done for you and me. The kind that He finds acceptable. Hmm… I have heard this verse explained many times in many different ways according to the doctrine of the preacher or teacher. But you know what I think this means…God loves us. He doesn’t need us. He desires us. There is nothing God requires me to do other than just repent or turnaround and find Him. My sin is under the Blood of Jesus Christ and I have full access to His Presence. It doesn’t mean I won’t sin and make bad choices. The worst thing I could ever do is claim or even try to convince others of my perfection.

The absence of honesty is insanity. It is very easy to assume the customs and behaviors of the world because of overall acceptance. It is easy to assume the identity of the church culture that one participates in but in the Presence of God there is clarity. He defines our life and how we live it if we enter His Presence. Not occasionally or when things get a little rough or even completely overwhelming, no when I make it the ONE THING that I seek the MOST is when I finally begin to see this life I live agree – body, mind and spirit. Such agreement with the Lord gives me the confident hope that produces heavenly communication. I can praise Him when things are good just like when everything falls apart. Worship is my life not a few songs laced with tears. He will clear the way of all obstacles when I stop holding on to them. I can enter His Presence no matter where I am or who I am with. Jesus gives us that kind of access. The kind of unlimited access that comes without penalty just purpose.

Psalm 50:15-16 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) Thankfulness is the most fruitful part of communication. It is the remedy for discontentment that leads to doubt and discouragement. It turns our situation from hopeless to hope full. Gratitude will change our attitude. Rather than concentrating on what I am waiting for, if I can just begin to praise Him for all He has done. I will admit in a world driven by supply and demand with greedy temptation vying for our attention – it is hard to remain thankful. God’s Will for my life is found in thankfulness. Thanksgiving produces a change in my heart so significant that the Word of God says, He “will give me” His Glory. When I enter the Presence of God, my words are equally important as those cast around carelessly each day. Every word I speak bears fruit in my life good or bad. I must tend the gateway of my mouth and tame my rebellious tongue. My heart desires the Lord. My head knows His Way is best. I must make a careful and considerate commitment to continually monitor my conversation. Are my words filled with praise? Do they worship the Lord? Am I thankful? No more grumbling or complaining about God’s Care for me. That’s what we are saying by doing so that the God of all Creation is not a good caregiver but a careless Father. Which is simply not true!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The God of Sunday is still God on Monday. The Presence of God that gave you goosebumps in church is the same Holy Spirit that is in you right now. You are a Child of God. He is a good father. Have you forgotten some of the good things that He has done? Or maybe you just haven’t taken full advantage of them yet? Praise Him today. Worship Him. Love on Him. Enter His Presence. Thank the Lord for all the good things that He has done and promised to do for you and in you. This is the best way to start the week. It will end your Monday blues and fill your life with His Presence including His Love, Joy and Peace that is hidden there for you. He fills our life with good things. Always. Every day. More than we can even think or imagine. I must only make myself available – letting go of every complaint – and make my heart and mind agree so my mouth declares His Praise – He is good! He is good on Sunday. He is still awesome on Monday! We serve a good God! Let’s sound like it.

Those hydrangeas in the flower bed have some blue and purple blooms on them right now. I have the ability to change the color of the flowers by what I put in the soil. I can add pH or alkaline depending on what I would like them to look like. I also have the ability to decide what blooms in my life, too. It is about my conversation. It is how I communicate with the Lord and other people. The foundation of my life will be evident in the fruit of my life. Let it always represent that I am rooted and grounded in His Love.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Sticks and Stones

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Proverbs 18:20-21 (NLT) Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is one of the greatest lies ever told yet recounted time and time again to overcome the hurtful, thoughtless or careless words of others. The original context is from an English children’s rhyme in 1872 which is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.”  Rubbish. Hogwash. Words do cause great harm when not considered fully and carefully before delivery. Many people will take the words of others to the heart. Many word walls surround fragile hearts enshrouding them in darkness and never allowing the Light of God’s Love to reach inside.

As a self-professed and often labeled talker, I am at great risk when it comes to conversation. It has taken a whole lot of Jesus to gain even the slightest control over my wayward tongue and rambling thoughts that come tumbling out of my mouth. There are some days when I stop talking altogether in fear of allowing those harmful words to come rolling out undeterred. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth. We must examine our heart and consider each word in every conversation comparing them to Christ to be sure that they nourish souls and bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life. As believers, let’s take a moment today to evaluate the contents of conversation.

I Samuel 17:40-47 (NLT) He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Bear with me. I know this is not the common text concerning wise words and godly conversation but it is relevant. David didn’t come to the battlefield looking for a fight that day. He was directed to bring his brothers lunch and return with a report of their well-being. When the shepherd boy arrived on the scene, he was an unsuspecting hero who was about to be discovered. He went to battle with five smooth stones selected from a nearby stream and his staff. Goliath approached ready to fight but David came ready to win. His faith spoke from a confident heart, “But I come in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you…” With one well-directed stone, the giant in all his bravado died that day. The whole world did see the Hand of God work on behalf of his people. It is one of the most renowned stories of the Bible taught to even the smallest of children.

There are many teachings on the stones that David chose that day. I believe there is significance in his choice as well for many reasons. David went to battle with stones, a slingshot and a staff. What if the stones represented our words, testimony and offering to others? The slingshot our mouth or tongue. The staff represents direction. Our words should always be washed in God’s Word and sent in His Direction according to His Instruction. David wrote in Psalm 23 that God’s Rod (Discipline) and Staff (Direction) were a comfort to him. The smooth stones of the stream were once sharp-edged rocks. Time and testing had tempered them as the water rushed over them and around them season after season preparing them for the day of the giant. The stones are evidence of precise preparation at the Hand of God. He tumbled them in that stream until the moment they were to be released. Our words should be the same. They are not for killing sheep but killing giants.

John 8:4-11 (NLT) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

The woman was caught in flagrant and obvious sin. The religious folks including teachers and Pharisees brought her to Jesus – she was caught in the act. They put her in front of the crowd. They each had stones in hand ready to exact the Law of Moses. They asked Jesus, “What do you say?” His response, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” It did not take long to empty the place. Jesus turned to the woman and asked, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? “No, Lord,” she replied. Jesus set her free. “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

We are so quick to condemn others with our words. I don’t think it is an overt act but one that is covered by religion and self-righteousness that smacks of the Law rather than God’s Love. A relationship with Jesus Christ does not condemn us but frees us. We are given the grace to know Him more. We are given unconditional love that knows our faults and failures from before we meet Jesus on the earth until the time we meet Him face to face. I hate the statement that someone has one foot in Christ and one in the world. It is not possible. We live in this world but are not of this world. To be in Christ is not a religious or judgmental possible but to become so clothed in His Love and wrapped tightly in the Robe of His Righteousness that Light breaks through darkness setting others free. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glorious Standard God set forth. Many Christians are still doing it today without even knowing it.

What if we considered a word like a stone in our hand? What if we became intention about only throwing rocks at the Goliath rather than pummeling our sheep in the head? If we throw rocks at sheep they will scatter, running for cover, looking for refuge in other things, and hidden in the darkness just to survive. David went into the battle with faith in God. God who fights for us. The Lord was His Victory. His voice projected faith and confidence in God alone. Not his skill or ability to kill the giant, but God’s Promise that the big man was going down. He entered with a staff. The staff was used to guide the sheep. The hooked used to pull them out of their mess, or deliver them from trouble. What are we using our staff for today?

The woman was caught in her sin. The church set out to make an example of her. How quickly we forget what the Lord has done for us? His Grace is sufficient for me, but does not give me the right to throw careless words about. Our words hold power. They can do way more than break bones. Do not be deceived. Your hidden conversation is not as private as you think. There are days when I must shut my mouth completely as not to let an idle word slip out. Careless conversation is like stoning someone to death without even knowing it.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The words of our mouth are a direct reflection of the contents of our heart. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What do your words reveal? It matters less what you say to their face, then what you say about others in private. The Word of God gives us clear direction on the contents of godly conversation including the following:

The Words of the Godly are:

Life (Proverbs 10:11)

Knowledge (Proverbs 10:13) Reveal our understanding of Christ and His Way

Valuable (Proverbs 10:20; 20:15)

Encouraging (Proverbs 10:21)

Wise Advice (Proverbs 10:31)

Helpful (Proverbs 10:32)

A Benefit (Proverbs 12:14)

Healing (Proverbs 12:18)

Truth (Proverbs 12:19) Withstanding the test of time

Favorable (Proverbs 13:2)

Nourishment for the Soul (Proverbs 18:20)

Instruction with Kindness (Proverbs 31:26)

God has set a standard for godly communication that the church must pay close attention to or they will kill their sheep. Your words should welcome other into the fold. Express the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. We must examine the stones in our hand, heart and mouth to determine their direction in each conversation.

Romans 14:10-13 (NLT) So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

Some say that the truth hurts, maybe the truth you choose to live in. My Truth came wrapped in flesh to set me free. He died on a Cross to save me, heal me and deliver me. His Love so thick it wrapped itself around my heart and is the life and breath that I breathe. His Grace so sufficient that even when I fall it picks me right back up. The Truth in my life is Light that gives me hope. He has given my life new purpose to have all that He has promised according to His Word. My faith is not in my ability to live a perfect life but that He is and always be enough. He is the Word that came inside me and is changing my heart. His Language is Love. Always love. Never condemnation. When I use the words I am given to throw at another rather than pulling them close and loving them like Jesus loves me, I am no longer a giant killer but a Pharisee in the making.

My mouth was made to give the Lord praise and adoration. It is to declare my allegiance to Jesus Christ which is always wrapped in His Love and full of His Grace. I must make sure that my attitude and actions right down to every single word I speak draws people closer to the Lord rather than causing them to stumble and fall. Even if I am misunderstood, it is my humble position to apologize and continue to love them no matter what they do or say. Pride can never be my motivation again. I must live to love others with every breath in my body. Jesus help me to examine the contents of my heart and every word of conversation so the context remains in Your Truth according to Your Word, following Your Way which always leads to love, forgiveness and freedom.

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life.

Can you imagine your words like the stones in the stream before David? He selected them carefully. We must do the same. Our words hold power once released. We must be sure of their trajectory. Aimed at giants produce victory. Carelessly hurled at sheep only lead to death and defeat. Have some wandered? Stop talking about them and go get them. Jesus never forced His Love on anyone. He met their need in their current condition. His Love drew them in. His Grace pulled their heart strings. His Kindness lead them to repentance. Faith is born of love not hate. Hope is confidence that in spite of me – He has a Purpose, Plan and Promise for my life that is worth having. What is the Gospel shared? Love. It should always be love. Drop the rocks, people. Shut the death door. Consider carefully the contents of every conversation. Does it lead to life? Is it Light in the darkness? Is it freedom to others? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it useful? Is it even true? I am pondering these thoughts and ideas today. I challenge you to do the same. Sticks and stones do harm people including us even more than we think. Lord, please take a coal from your altar and touch my lips so I may worthy to praise you again.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NLT) Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Eat My Words

eat-my-words

Luke 6:44-45 (NLT) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

One of the perks of the holidays in our office are the many gift baskets and plethora of food sent to us by our clients. Breakfast is catered. Gift baskets carrying many delicious delicacies. One sent a case of chocolate covered strawberries although I am not sure that we have been that good this year. Digging into the boxes, there were a variety of berries large and small covered in milk chocolate rolled in chocolate chips, white chocolate rolled in sprinkles and more chocolate drizzled in with red and green frosting. The presentation was perfect. Carefully packaged to maintain their appearance. Packed with ice packs to stay fresh and keep their form. Such temptation could not be avoided. Biting into the first one it was so sweet and rich the chocolate melting in your mouth followed by the ripe, sweet strawberry. It was heavenly. So much so that I had to try just one more. The covering just as yummy as the first one, but the berry inside was sour and disgusting. Soft and nasty – it was beginning to rot ruining the experience entirely. I had to get it out of my mouth.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart. What is the production of my heart that is flowing from my mouth? What is the flavor of my lips? When speaking to others, is it life or death? Do I nourish their soul or condemn their life? Our words reflect the cultivation and production of God’s Word in our heart. Barren conversation filled with gossip and bitterness only signifies a lack of growth and prosperity. When I have a tough piece of meat like a London broil, I usually take a meat tenderizer that looks like a torture device and plunge it into the cut of meat over and over again. This separates the muscle from the meat. Those veins of marrow they cause tough gristle to form is torn and severed by the sharp points as they pierce it. Afterwards I take the manhandled piece of beef and I marinate it not only to infuse flavor but to soften the meat so it is edible and delicious. After a while, I cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time and it becomes a delicious meal. Hear me men and women of God. Hear me woman of God. Our words require no less. Our heart must be tenderized and marinated to produce the words that God desires of us. To present the message of the Gospel it must be covered in love and presented with perfection. I wonder could I eat my words today. Would they be palatable?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

“I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies” (Brokenness Aside) I love this song. I can identify with it completely. I AM a sinner. Though I try and try I still sin every single day. I used to think being a Christian and growing in Christ meant rising above sin and living a better life. What it really means in drowning in His Grace every single day in humility at the realization that apart from being totally absorbed in the Lord – I am desperately lost every day. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross just the same. I think this is forgotten by those who know their Savior more than one day. To rid one’s life of certain sins means nothing. You and I are still sinners just as much as the one who comes in to church reeking like the club and accidentally throws a free drink ticket into the offering plate rather than the dollar they were digging for. The only difference is that I believe the one who was out last night is more honest than the prideful one condemning them one row over.

After enduring a season where lies, rumors and hurtful words cut to the heart of one of my children, I should not have been surprised to hear the rumor mill begin to stir about another. One would only hope that in the aftermath of hurt, separation and bitterness – Christians, believers, leaders, teachers, members and congregations would learn that words are power. Words will infuse life in a church or tear it down person by person. Not the case, hurtful words about others who need the Lord and are in the constant prayers of others. Torn apart and judged only because in this particular instance you made a better choice. Shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on us. The cancer of the church is found in conversations filled with words like “bless their heart” and “I will pray for them” only trying to disguise gossip and insecure people who think Heaven is earned and grace is not enough.

Do the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart reflect the Love I have been given and the Grace that I have received? What makes you or I more deserving of God’s Grace, Love and Favor than anyone else walking on the planet? He loves us all exactly the same. The one who is working and striving to build the Kingdom must never think it is okay to tear a single person down or condemn one of their choices without refuting God’s Word that promises He will work every detail out for those who love Him. The more I know Jesus and spend time in His Word the more I realize that there is nothing that I can do to earn His Love or deserve His Grace. I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Caught up in words. Tangled in lies. Women by virtue of numbers, it is our distinction to speak about 10,000 words a day – some more and seldom less. What am I saying? Do my words build others up? Do they tear them down? It doesn’t matter WHO we tell them to – it is what we release in the atmosphere. Have you heard of acid rain? Water is drawn into the sky and forms rain. If the source is tainted, it becomes acid rain that moves in a cloud and kills whatever it is released upon. We get caught in our words. We get tangled in lies. Have you ever heard the expression “enough rope to hang yourself”? Well…the enemy convinces us that our words don’t matter. Or even that because we add something like “bless their heart” or “I need you to pray for” that it somehow changes gossip to gospel. It doesn’t. I promise you that what is spoken in darkness will make its way into the light.

Proverbs 26:22-26 (NLT) Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

Have you ever wondered why your ministry is not growing? Why prayers for revival are not answered? Could it be that our words are not cultivating seeds of faith? Maybe it is our overflow of senseless and thoughtless words that is quenching the fire? Rumors kill churches if entertained. People are the Kingdom. Build up the people and churches will grow. Tear down sinners and there will be no one left. I wonder what might happen if we removed all the stages and platforms from church buildings. What if all church leaders and teachers were stripped of titles and there was no one left to cater to their office? What if the pastors in our congregations would be simple shepherds with a rod for instruction and a staff to guide with humility, gentleness, grace and love? Would the Holy Spirit do the rest? Could we trust God’s to take the Word and by His Spirit change hearts and lives?

Our pastors cannot lead churches and build the Kingdom because their schedule is full of appointments mediating members and settling issues with their leaders. Our congregations are caught up in words and tangled in lies. Rumors have sunk into hearts and killed those who came to be saved. Not able to live up to our standards, they thought that Jesus required the same. No love. No problem. I will just sleep in on Sunday. Oh, how I love sleep. Christianese covers the death sentences dealt behind doors and when we think no one else is listening. I do not want to be a glazed pot. Beautiful on the outside but worthless on the inside. I do not want my heart to deceive and my words to deal death. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit. I do not want to be part of the death and destruction of others but offer life in every conversation.

I John 3:1-2 (NLT) See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 

I have five beautiful children. I have some who live to please me and maintain a right relationship with me at all times. I have others who must test every boundary and find their own way. They argue among themselves that I have favorites. I let them think what they want. The truth of the matter is that I love them all the same. I would lay down my life in second for any one of them without a moment’s hesitation. They are my children not because they make good choices or do the right thing. They are my children. (Period) When will we realize as individuals that this is the Heart of God for His People? We cannot build a Kingdom until it is understood that there is absolutely no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace that we are saved by faith in Him alone. We are family. Equals. Brothers and sisters no matter what because it is His Will and His Plan.

Religion is man’s way of seeking after God. God wants us to establish a relationship with His Son, Jesus. Once this is accomplished, Jesus tells us to create the same connection with everyone else. How are we doing? Not very well…no revival means no relationship. Early believers did not have time to tear each other apart because of their relationship and unity revival broke with thousands coming to Christ at a time. It can happen. It will happen. Are you willing to take a long hard look at your heart? Do you think it might be possible to go to those you have condemned with words and ask for forgiveness? Is it even thinkable to exalt another before our pride today and overcome insecurity to establish a bond with others? If we can’t get it right in our families, friendships and congregations…why would He give us nations? Why would He send our community? Why spark revival that will quickly be drowned in worthless words? Where the Spirit of the Lord there is freedom. Don’t get caught up in words and tangled in lies. Speak life today. Speak love. Give them Jesus in every conversation. And for goodness sake, if you have nothing nice to say…say nothing at all.

Colossians 4:6 (NLT)  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a]so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Poison Apples

poison-apples

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Scientific studies have concluded that women speak on average about 20,000 words a day. Our male counterparts are believed to only speak about 7,000 words in the same amount of time. Research has also proven typically girls learn to speak earlier and more quickly than boys. Is this a blessing or a curse? It depends on what is coming out of our mouth, I suppose. I remember hearing somewhere that our words must be evaluated for worth. The worth of our words is this – are they kind, necessary and true? Imagine if before uttering a single sentence it was measured against these three qualities. Not only would our words be the tree of life that God intended them to be, but our relationships would thrive as well.

Not to add to the pressure ladies, but we will be judged for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Who says? Jesus! A tree is identified by its fruit. A good tree produces good fruit. What is in our heart determines what we say? The words we speak are to be a tree of life to those who they fall upon. What is the fruit of your lips today? I am evaluating mine. A good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart. What’s in your basket of conversation today? What is the product of your words? Is there life? Do they feed and nourish those around you or are you giving away poison apples?

Have you noticed how expensive fresh fruit is these days? Four or five fresh Honeycrisp apples (our favorite) is about $5.00. Given the high price, I take my time going through the bin to select that apples that are ripe and colorful. I check them for bruising or signs of rotting. It is important to me that I choose well because they are for my family. I wonder what life might be like if we chose our words as carefully as selecting expensive items at the grocery store? What is the worth of our words?

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

I have changed a lot over the last five years. It used be all about being right. Voicing my opinion, and steamrolling through. I was full of pride. If I was right, it really didn’t matter what I said or how I said it. I had a coworker at my previous job who created a sign for me. On one side, it said, “Stop!” and on the other side “Go Right Ahead!” She would use it when she could tell I was becoming agitated as a warning system. She was like a mini-Holy Spirit if you will. When a conversation was escalating, she would hold up the sign. Thinking back, I wonder if the Lord was using her to send a message to me.

It doesn’t matter if I am right. Jesus gives me grace and mercy for when I am not. What matters to the Lord is the intention of my heart. Do I intend to love and honor Him with my life? In doing so, do I love and honor others in every conversation? The power of life and death is in our tongue. Every conversation has an accountability factor whether heard by many or simply with our self. Every idle word produces judgment in our life. Today I must evaluate the fruit of my life by examining my conversation. Are my words true? Are they necessary? Are they kind?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I used to think my opinion mattered. I also believed that everyone should know the truth even it was harsh reality. I believe that the Word of God is Truth and the only thing that really matters. When I take my feelings, emotions and opinions out of my conversation, it adds worth to my words. God loves us. He is good to us. He loves others. He has given us a message of love, faith and hope to be shared with others. If the words of my mouth do not line up with the meditation of my heart, I am sending mixed messages which are invalid. How can I know if my words are coming from a pure heart? Well let’s see…

In Proverbs, there are several verses that allow us to determine if our words hold life or death. Proverbs 10:11-12 tells us that the words of the godly should be a life-giving fountain. Do your words speak life to relationships or poison them? Godly words are valuable. (10:20) They offer encouragement. (10:21) Godly words are helpful. (10:32) They bring satisfaction to the giver and receiver. (18:20) Our words have the power to save lives. (12:6)

Proverbs also instructs us on the value of wise words. They will bring benefit. (12:14) Wisdom brings healing. (12:18) Wisdom is winning. (13:12) They cause us to dwell in safety. (14:3) Jesus told the Pharisees that their religious actions (what went in their mouth) did not defile them but rather what was coming out of their mouths. (Matthew 15) What are my words doing in the lives of those I share them with? Do my words feed others? Do my words attract them to Jesus? Do I spread life? Do I encourage? Do I build up? What am I spreading around for others to pick up? Our daily conversation allows us the opportunity to examine the contents of our heart. What are we looking for? Kind words. Necessary words. Truthful words. Godly words full of His Wisdom not our own.

James 3:17-18 (NLT)  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The words of James come at the end of his discourse concerning the power of our tongue. I know that when my emotions get all riled up, it feels like I am pulling back on the reins of ten stampeding horses trying to rein them in and not react. We must learn to respond to the unexpected rather than react. The more I know the Lord – the less my opinion about people and things really matter. He decided everyone was worth it when Jesus died for us on the Cross. No one is righteous (right) outside of the love, grace and mercy of our Savior. One sin is enough sin to condemn us. Should we include our words in such considerations? When I speak harsh words against another, I am saying that Jesus died for nothing. My insults and frustrations invalidate my belief that His Grace is enough for me when I decide that it is okay to malign another with harsh words and accusations. It brings judgment on me.

Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds. Our words are seeds planted in the lives of others. What will they grow into? Love. Peace. Joy. Kindness. Or any other fruit of the Holy Spirit? Or do my words drive a wedge between Jesus and His Beloved. Lord, give me wise words and a discerning heart today to pluck away all the bad apples in my communication and rotting seeds of bad words.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NLT) 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. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 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.

There is a “bless your heart” mentality in the church that makes it okay to gossip, malign and slander others. Sharing their secrets, exposing the truth and spreading gossip is covered in the heavy veil of religion because we are going to pray for them. The discourse is usually covered by a “we need to pray for them” or “bless their heart.” However, I believe this brings sorrow to the Holy Spirit. We are to cover each other. We are to pray for one another in love. Believers must get rid of all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” to yield fruit fit for the Kingdom. Parents – our conversation in the home dictates the pattern of speech our children will adopt. To tear down people around our dinner table only teaches them it is okay to do so in the lunchroom. It is up to us as Children of the Living God to share a life of tenderheartedness, compassion and forgiveness even when we want to give others a piece of our mind. It doesn’t really matter what people say about me. My life is dependent on what I say about others and to them. I cannot change the heart and mind of another person. I am only responsible for my own.

My words belong to me. They are produced in my heart. I love Jesus. I want to have a heart and mind in alignment with Him. I must remain in Him and He lives in me. His Words must live in me, too. His Word bears the Fruit of His Spirit which is the only thing of worth I have to offer in this life. Do my words hold power? Do they emit light? Do they feed a hungry soul or deal the death blow? Are they fruit of His Spirit or nothing more than poison apples? Lord, when I open my mouth today to speak some of those 20,000 words that I am known to use in any given day, please Lord help me to remember to evaluate them carefully and inspect them thoroughly. Holy Spirit make sure they are kind, necessary and true – beneficial to the Kingdom. Thank you Lord for this reminder.

I Peter 3:9-11 (NLT) Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

 

Perfecting Praise

perfecting-praise

Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT) It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening…”

Thank God it’s Friday! I don’t think I could have made it to one more day of this week before the weekend. It has been a busy week. It is already shaping up to be a busy weekend. If I am not careful, I will get wrapped up in my to-do list and all the “things” I need to finish at work, the “things” I want to do at home, and the “things” I have to do at church until I no longer am doing what I should be doing the most. My life is very busy. Yours probably is, too. It is human nature to think that we are too busy for certain things and get our priority list out of whack but truly if I do nothing else today – I need to praise the Lord.

My commute to work is about 45 minutes one way each day. I have about an hour and a half blocked Monday through Friday with nothing to do but drive to town and back. I was concerned when we moved that I might get tired of the daily drive. This is not the case. It has become a designated praise break. After I drop our youngest off at school, I have about 40 minutes of uninterrupted Jesus time. This time is so important. I love to praise the Lord. Worship is my favorite part of every church service. I am not a musician. I cannot play an instrument. I am not able to carry a note. However, when I am alone in the car worshipping my Lord and Savior – it is as if no one is there but me and Jesus so I sing at the top of my lungs. Right about now would be a good time to thank the Lord that you do not carpool with me.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord. Are you thankful today? Do you have something to sing about? God loves you. His Love never fails. It is enough to sing about each morning. His Faithfulness is relentless and enduring. The Lord never gives up on us. It is work singing through the night. No matter how this day shapes up or falls apart, I have a reason to praise the Lord.

Psalm 42:4-5 (NLT) My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Is your heart broken today? Are you discouraged? Overwhelmed? Weak or weary? A bit burned out or completely give out as we say in the south? Do you remember when you used to walk with the worshippers? Lead a procession of praise? Sing for joy? Be thankful? What happened? Life happens. We come to the Lord with great expectation but it is not solely based on truth and understanding so when the first storm blows in or trouble comes knocking – it takes our breath away. We begin to complain, grumble or murmur rather than praising, worshipping and singing praise to the Lord. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart sad? When we take our hope from the Lord and place expectation in anyone or anything else, it is misplaced. He is our Rock and Salvation. He is our only Hope that does not lead to disappointment. We were created to give Him praise. It is the very reason there is breath in our body today. To do anything else is out of character. Our soul fights for its voice in the midst of our discouragement. It is ready to praise. We must learn to let it out!

Luke 19:36-40 (NLT) As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.  “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!”  He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

Jesus does not need my praise. He doesn’t want it. Jesus is worthy of all praise. If I choose to withhold praise, worship, honor or glory from my Lord, “the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” Sometimes, we need a humble perspective. God did not have to save us. He is God. He is Sovereign. Yet in His Complete and Utter Perfection, He still loved us and decided to send His One and Only Son to die for us and give us life again. By asking Jesus to be our Savior and Lord is to accept this gift so graciously given. We cannot earn it or attain it any other way than the acceptance of Jesus Christ. So what makes us think in our depleted human state when the only good thing in us is the Grace of the Living God that we can withhold thankfulness, praise and adoration from Jesus for a single moment? But we do it every day.

When I choose to complain about my situation? It tells the world that my God cannot satisfy my soul. When I gripe, grumble and gossip, it expresses a void that the capacity of my Savior’s Love cannot fill so I am empty and dry. The confession of my life speaks from the inner most depths of my heart. It is not what we say in church or in the presence of other believers that tell on us, but when our love is put to the test in discomfort or inconvenience. This tells the Source of our hope and our confidence in Him. The Lord is good. In every season, He is faithful. He gave us a new life, voice and breath so that we could join in the course all around Him.

Revelation 5:11-13 (NLT) Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

There are three voices in Heaven singing blessing, honor, glory and power filling the atmosphere with praise. The angels sing. The souls sing. The creatures sing. Everyone is singing to the Lamb. This is Heaven. This is the greatest praise break of all time that will last forever and ever because He is worthy! God has given you and me a song to sing! (Psalm 40) Are we singing it? In the Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid”, Ariel exchanged her beautiful singing voice for her sweet prince. She left the sea to live in his world. However, it was her voice that drew the prince to Ariel in the first place. What have we given up our praise for? Is there anything so precious that it would be more important than worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? He is our soon and coming King. Is our allegiance to His Kingdom clearly being expressed audibly in our life? It is our voice that unites us with the declaration of heaven that Jesus is Lord. Is this our confession? Is our life filled with praise?

Psalm 150 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.  Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!

We must protect our praise today. We cannot sit back silently and let creation take our place. When you wake up each morning, it is because the Lord has provided the breath to make it through one more day. The breath in our body is given to us to express the Glory of God by following His Word and fulfilling His Purpose in our life. Dead people cannot praise God. (Psalm 6:5) Life gives us the opportunity to worship one more day. To give Him thanks. To bless His Name. Each day should begin with praise. Each night should conclude with it. Praise is the perpetual confession of faith and hope in Jesus Christ. If we grow silent, it is a reason for concern because even the rocks will cry out in His Name.

Wednesday night after church, a new mama was holding her infant son. He is just old enough to respond to his mother’s voice. She would speak to him softly and a smile would break across his face revealing a toothless grin. As she continued to engage with him, he began cooing in response to her voice. His adoration of his mama was clear. He was responding to her. Praise is our response to the Lord. It is how we express our love and gratitude for the grace we have been given and new life discovered in Jesus. Can the Lord hear our response to His Goodness today? Is He able to weed through our words to extract some glory, praise and adoration? Many will come to Jesus on “that” day telling him all the “things” they did for him and in His Name, but Jesus will say, “I never knew you!” Praise is the voice of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We must make it clear. Praise is our expression of salvation. Paul said, “And they praise God because of me.” (Galatians 1:24) Lord Jesus, let that be my testimony today! Let my praise be with expectation. My hope is secure in you, Lord. I will make you known today Jesus. I will not let a rock cry out in my place. Amen and amen!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

 

 

 

 

Mouth Full

Biting an apple

Luke 6:44-45 (NKJV)  For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

What is the abundance of my heart? Is my heart full of abundance? The words that I speak are seeds if the Word of God is true. The words that I speak determine the harvest in my life. Every tree is known by its fruit. The fruit of conversation is a harvest of our heart. A good man (or woman) out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good. What are our words producing today? Anything good coming out of them. Abundance means an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply. It is an overflowing fullness. We give from abundance never from lack. Think about that for a moment. I can say all the right words, but if there is no abundance in my words to gather the listener will leave in the same condition they arrived. Does that matter? It sure does.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NKJV) But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

The life planted in us should be growing day by day into a fruitful harvest to be shared with others. By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. Guilty as charged. Every idle word will be called to accountability one day. All those wonderful and encouraging conversations building up a loved one and encouraging a friend will be to my credit. All the rest of those wayward words and thoughtless tirades will not be held in my favor but must be covered by His Blood. My words hold power. Life and death are in my tongue. The Spirit of the Living God lives in me and fills my heart with good fruit. The fruit of His Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It has taken a long time and whole lot of Jesus for me to come to realize the awesome responsibility and ultimate accountability of every word I speak. I struggle daily to maintain godly conversations in a world filled with gossip, backbiting and perversity. My desire is to represent Jesus Christ effectively to others. My words are born of the abundance of my heart. When others receive them, what is the fruit of His Labor in me?

Luke 13:6-9 (NKJV) He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away.” (Matthew 21:17-19) Jesus was hungry. When he saw the fig tree by the road, he went to take some fruit from it. Though covered in leaves signifying a hidden harvest – the Lord found it lacking any fruit at all. He cursed it and it soon withered. Jesus expected the tree to produce fruit according to fulfillment of purpose. Thankfully such judgment is not cast on those who choose not to produce any spiritual fruit but rather grace is applied in abundance. Grace and more grace like the kind in the parable of the barren fig tree. When the man presumably the owner came to find the abundance of his investment disappointingly there was none to be found. His solution was to cut it down and make room for a productive tree to grow. The “keeper”, however; made a request of the landowner that day. Let me dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next time – great. If not, than you can cut it down.

The Grace of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ allows us grace and mercy as His Spirit works in us and through us to produce a harvest of abundance to share with others. It allows us to give from the generosity of Jesus who cultivates fruit in us to share with others freely and abundantly. Sometimes that means the discomfort of digging a little deeper, plowing our hard heart, breaking our strong will, and sensitizing our spirit. It isn’t comfortable but it just might save my soul.

God created me with purpose. It leads to fulfillment. The way of failure is rebellion. When I lack spiritual fruit, it is a certain sign of disobedience. It reveals a disconnect from the abundance that I am given in Christ that needs to be reconnected so that I will indeed bear spiritual fruit and produce productive conversation. From the abundance of my heart, my mouth will speak. The fruit of my words is the harvest of my heart. Is it satisfying others, or starving their souls?

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (NKJV) The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

It is very easy to get caught up in our own little world. Our problems, temptations, circumstance, hurts, failures – you know all those things that consume us day by day. Our perception of life limited it is hard to see the forest for the trees. Our life is not our own. We belong to Jesus. This is not our home. Yet wrapped up in everyday life, we see people superficially never looking deeper than the surface. Afraid of what we might find or the responsibility to bear, relationally it is a challenge to reach beyond our three-foot perimeter of personal space let along step out of our comfort zone. As the Spirit of the Lord is given more and more real estate in us, beware for He will lift you above the here and now to show you that there is more to life than this and you have a responsibility to fulfill beyond it.

The Hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit. It has happened to me. It is not some spooky spiritual overtaking but an awakening of my spirit to see life through God’s Eyes rather than always thinking about myself. Just last week during a youth service, I was overcome with the vision of so many hurting and broken people. We had just had an amazing service but rather than continue to glory in our celebration my heart was heavy. So many people being consumed by the burdens of this life completely unaware that there is a God who loves them and wants to take care of them. The Lord has a way of showing us the “one another” who has called us to love and share life with. It is what we do with such revelations that change everything.

In the midst of the valley were dry bones. Bones that represented the absence of life. He saw the amount of death and was overwhelmed by the number of them. The Lord poses the question today that He did then, “Can these bones live?” The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and tell the Word of the Lord which is that “you shall live”. To prophesy means to foretell or predict the future. It means to indicate beforehand or make a prediction. When we prophesy the Word of God in a person’s life it will come to pass. If you can find it in God’s Word, you can have it. If God’s Word finds its way into our heart and grows there, we can offer its productivity to others.

Now when Ezekiel prophesied the first time, he spoke life and breath into those dry bones. Only life came to the physical body, but there was no breath in them which sustains life. When we come to Jesus Christ for salvation, he ends the death sentence in our life and gives us the grace of a new life. We can live in obedience to God and commitment to Christ reaping the benefits. But wait there is more…the Lord did not stop by just saving the dry bones and creating an army of arms and legs.

Breath is important. It represents the life in our body. When we come to Jesus Christ for salvation, we are saved because His Word says so. We have God’s Word. It is truth. But the Word of God tells us that we must worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. We must have His Breath in our body operating as His Spirit. When the Promise of God (His Word) is coupled with His Power (His Spirit) a mighty army was formed. Dry bones came back to life again. Dead dreams are resurrected. Disappointment gives way to hope. To have the Word of God in our heart and never release it is to walk through a field of death and choose to withhold life from the dying. It is to be the two men who passed by the one hurt and dying on the side of the road, that is until the Good Samaritan came by. How many dying people do we hurry past in busyness? How many hurting people do we deal another blow by ignoring? How many words sown in hate and bitterness will I be responsible for when I see Jesus? What is the abundance of my heart today? Lord, show me the words that I speak from your perspective. Are they filled with life, love and abundance?

I Peter 3:8-12 (NKJV)  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

I want to bless the Lord with my words today…all of them. It is a struggle because there are temptations in life and well, we are surrounded by people who just as imperfect as we are. It is certainly a challenge to be examine each word thought for truth, relevance and love before it is spoken. This is a must for those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. We are called and empowered to produce abundance beginning with the cultivation of our heart. How are we doing? Each word should be laden with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. My words should be the very example of what love is and never what it is not.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Do my words speak of this kind of love or breed hate and discord? I was made to love. I am called to share the Gospel which is the Good News that God loves us. If my words are not filled with life then am I? Sobering to think that even though I try to say all the right words until they are filled with fruitful abundance from a heart complete committed to godly cultivation I am in danger of being cut down. Thankfully I am covered by unfailing love and unending grace. Grace that is enough for me to fill my heart so its abundance will always speak Jesus! Lord, fill me with new life today. Produce a harvest in me for others that will spill out in every conversation. I give my heart and mind to you once again today for fruitful cultivation.

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

But God…

But God

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.

 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world. We do. We don’t mean to, but we do. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As believers, we must think about our faith in God, relationship to Jesus Christ, His Word and practical application of what we believe on a daily basis. Christianity is faithful and habitual. As we begin the transformation process of salvation, our participation is surrender. It is take bits and pieces of our existence and daily turn them over obediently to God. His Spirit reveals the areas of our life which are withheld and it is our job to turn them over in repentance. I may have lost some of you here, but that’s okay. You will want to be a living sacrifice by the end of this, I am convinced.

 

“But” be transformed is a pivotal statement in the key verse today. This world can empower your life or it can kill your purpose in a single statement. It happens all the time. I have seen it in Sunday school, church, board meetings, and Bible studies. In this social groups of believers who claim to have faith, a lack of faith is revealed in their conversation. “I am trusting the Lord, “but” the reality is…” “I know that healing is possible, “but” the doctor says…” “The Lord has laid it on my heart to do (blah) “but” the budget…” “I want to serve the Lord, “but”…”

 

“But” is a conjunction. The danger of this word comes with its explanation. The definition of “but” is on the contrary, yet, except that, unless, otherwise and other negating words. To use the word “but” after a statement of faith negates it. In other words, when you profess to believe in Jesus and add “but” to it, you have nullified the declaration entirely. The word after “but” holds all the power. Do not be offended by this but be aware of it instead. Offense is the enemy’s way of shutting us off and isolating us. It keeps us from using knowledge to our benefit and keeps us from understanding the Power that God has given us. I know, I know – “but” we live in a real world. Okay, I get that so do I. “but” – greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.

 

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

Luke 6:45 (NIV)

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

Our words hold power. We don’t have to try or even mean them for damage to be done. The tongue gives life or administers death each day. The word “but” is important. We must carefully listen to the order of our sentences to determine the condition of our heart and level of faith operated in. If God, Jesus or Lord come before the word “but” when used we have a problem.

 

Sitting in a Sunday school class, the attendees were sharing special prayer requests and the needs of others. As one might expect, there were many who asked for prayer for ailing family and friends. As we bowed our head to pray, the speaker said, “And God if it is Your Will to heal these folks…” I almost came out of my chair right there save my husband sitting right next to me. Of course, it is God’s Will to save, heal, deliver and restore us. Why would He have allowed His Son to be tortured and die for anything less? I opened my eyes and looked around the room and everyone was praying earnestly. Their intentions were good but they did not understand. We must know what we believe. We must examine the contents of our heart. We must allow Jesus to transform us day by day especially until our heart and mind agree. From the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks. Healing is most certainly the Will of God – He says so in His Word. God holds all power and authority in our life. Jesus is Lord of our life when He comes after all “buts”.

 

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

Looking back in the Old Testament, there are many references to “but God” in the accounts of men like Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph just to name a few. When life was less than favorable, the passage generally ends “but” God or “but” the Lord was with them, or “but” they found favor with God. These men faced many challenges. In the end, it was the “but God” was with them that changed everything.

 

Mark 9:22-24 (NIV)

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

All things are possible to those who believe. I know many believers who I consider to be strong Christians who still have unbelief. I still have unbelief in me at times. Everything is possible for one who believes. The more we believe the less impossible life becomes. “If you can…” Jesus didn’t like that statement very much. “If you can…” he responded to the man with a quick correction. The man said, “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” Even the smallest amount of disbelief is a faith ender, miracle spoiler, blessing robber, and dream killer. We must check our declaration to determine the driving force of our life. This may help us understand why Heaven has not made it to earth yet, healings aren’t happening and deliverance is dead. The impossible is only possible when we believe.

 

Romans 8:8-10 (NIV)

Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

 

“But” if Christ is in you, then you have been made righteous. Many times but is our excuse for trying to help God our or establish some kind of work in our life. Righteousness is in Christ alone. Our connection to Him is established in desperation and never co-dependency. Nothing we can ever do for Christ will be worthy of what He has done for us and is now trying to do through us. The realm of flesh separates us from the realm of hope. God’s Spirit works inside us to cultivate more faith of the little that we have and produce spiritual fruit to satisfy our soul and promote generosity and sharing of that fruit with others. We do not produce increase in our life. We may plant or water but it is always God who gives us increase. (I Corinthians 3:6-7) God is trying to grow us today and move us from the barren unproductive state of God, we must change “but” to “but God” again.

 

I Corinthians 3:10-11 (NIV)

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 

“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” (Hebrews 3:4) Humility can be crushing sometimes and I find that every time I enter a transformation phase in my life that the subject is addressed. Everything I am. Everything I can do. Every word I speak must be devoted to the supremacy of Christ in my life for faith to fill my life. When I take precedence or situations become priorities or my words are not petitions to God but complaints to man, I rob myself of the blessing of righteous obedience. Friend, the Lord can do it without you. You are not a martyr in your labor but simply took the burden from Christ. Our competence is completely from Christ alone. (2 Corinthians 3:5) Apart from Him, we can do nothing of worth or value for us or the Kingdom of God. (John 15:5) It is in Christ alone. It’s humbling to think that all my hard work is in vain when it is not attributed to Christ, wrapped in love, and surrendered to Him. I am nothing without Him.

 

I Corinthians 2:11-13 (NIV)

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

 

The third relapse of cancer in our son was the worst of all. It had spread from his neck throughout his entire torso. His scan was an array of dots throughout his body. The doctors had declared us in the realm of hope now because to them the reality was that cancer was winning. After the third round of chemo, they were going to scan his body to see if the treatment was helping. It came with a warning. Do not be discouraged if the cancer is still there. The only thing we want to see is that it is no longer spreading. Something rose up in me, it had to be God. I was really struggling by now with the continued relapses in the natural but I asked anyway, “What if it’s gone?” Patting me on the shoulder and then putting her arm around me, the doctor tried to let me down gently and after some pressing, she said, “It’s impossible!” My heart began beating wildly in my chest, my spirit long dampened by bad reports and the Holy Ghost began stirring in me. Could it be? Was it true? Was something about to happen? When she called me three days, yes, three days later, it was to a doctor laughing hysterically. The scan was clear and the cancer gone.

 

The reality was that our son would relapse again and again. The Truth is that he is alive and well today in total remission to the Glory of God. God works in the impossible. When we dare challenge the lines of reality with God’s Word backed by just a little faith, impossible things happen. Revival will break out when continue to push the line of the impossibilities with conversations that are declarations of faith rather than empowering fear and doubt. We must work day by day to wrap our head around God’s Supremacy and Power allowing His Spirit to convince our heart until our mouth cannot give credit, power or authority to anyone or anything else without immediately realizing the mistake. God wants the impossible to be labeled possible and probable in our life. it begins with me. I must examine every single word that I speak, comparing it to the Word of God and making sure that God always comes after my “buts”. Titus 1:15-16 talks about those who claim to know God but remain impure and corrupted. I don’t want to be someone who has to tell others that I believe in God because my life does not display the Truth. I want them to know without asking. Your situation does not dictate one’s faith and circumstances hold no power over us. No matter if the bondage faced is real or perceived, the truth remains unchained and moving in our life. (2 Timothy 2:8-10) Isaiah realized that he was unclean. The angel touched his lips with a coal from the altar. He was cleansed and renewed immediately to do the work of God.

 

Titus 3:3-6 (NIV)

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior…”

 

Jesus said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” I believe this includes powerless conversation when we allow something or someone else to have more power than God in our life. I trust God “but”… I believe in Jesus “but”. All those times when we profess faith “but” nullify it with fear and futility. We are all guilt of it. When we add all the reasons that make it impossible to trust the Lord, this should be lead to immediate conviction so that we can surrender our thoughts and mind back to Christ. Do our words relay foolishness, disobedience, deception, bondage, malice, envy, hatred or do we constantly express confidence, love, affirmation and allegiance to Christ which frees us of worldly expectation so we can love more, give more and serve more in the Kingdom of God.

 

If someone hurts me, then comes to issue an apology, it is all good until they use the word “but”. I’m sorry “but”…is a lie. For example, I’m sorry “but” I was having a bad day. I’m sorry “but” you made me whatever. Repentance does not come with an excuse. There is no need for “but” when it comes to our life of faith. The only time “but” is effective is when it is “but God.” We all need to be washed by His Blood on a daily basis. We all could use the coal on our lips each day. There is no shame in accepting His Mercy given to us. The greatest sin of all is to know His Great Love and refuse to receive it. We must strive in all things to be like Jesus. We are successful when we surrender everything to Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Listen to your words each day to see if faith is holding power or fear has taken over. Now do something about it. The words that are spoken after “but” nullify everything spoken before. The subject of our “but” is the one that holds power in our life. Who is that today?

 

Philippians 4:5-7 (NIV)

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.