“Speak Life”

(Mark 5: 35-43) 35 While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?” 36 Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” 37-40 He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. 40-43 But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room.

Did you ever hear that the strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue?  Most of us have heard so at some point, and though this little “fun fact” ins’t exactly true, the tongue is pretty fascinating when you think about it.  It can twist, it can bend, it can cup, and it’s often used playfully to blow raspberries and to make silly faces.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t just one muscle — it’s a network of several muscles, giving it the ability to bend and flex in many different ways, enabling us to speak, eat, drink, and swallow.  What is most amazing though, is that the tongue NEVER TIRES!  Think about that for a minute.  The one thing that is probably the most difficult for us to control and tame is also the one part of our bodies that never grows weary.  You know, much of what happens in the physical realm of our lives mirrors what is going on spiritually, so it does make sense that our tongues can get totally out of control when we don’t monitor it properly.  It’s like an annoying toy with brand new batteries (yeah, I was thinking of the Energizer Bunny too!) — eventually you’d have to stop being lazy and actually make the effort to reach over and physically turn that thing off! 

There is power in what we say.  The Bible tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  (Proverbs 18:21)  Our words verbalize what we are already thinking and feeling.  That is why we so often find ourselves with a “foot” in our mouths — because eventually what we truly believe comes spewing out, and it can be hurtful or embarrassing much of the time.  My grandmother used to tell me that there is always a little truth to every joke…you know, when you say something a that’s little mean and you quickly bandage it with a “just kidding” or a wink.  Be honest, if you didn’t think it…even just for a moment…it could never come out of your mouth.  Luke 6:45 says,  “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.”  Your words may not always be the truth, but they’re definitely your truth…reflecting what you think, what you feel, and who you are inside. 

The bottom line is that we are Christians, striving to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus, and as such we have to monitor what we say very closely.  When Jairus’ daughter died, all of the people surrounding his home began to chatter and gossip and speak death into Jairus’ ears.  Their words were a reflection of their measures of faith.  Jesus never once said that the girl was dead and that he would raise her from such.  Instead, He just spoke words of life.  What we speak into the lives of others can be life-changing.  A simple compliment can turn someone’s entire day around for the better…life.  A cutting remark can take root and hang on for a lifetime…death.   We must speak life, as much and as often as we possibly can!  We each have a powerful tool that never gets tired, so let’s use it the way our Lord intended us to— by confessing our sins and praying, by singing praises, by telling others of His love and faithfulness, and by encouraging one another with truth and love.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I don’t ever want to be the Debbie Downer, busybody gossip standing outside with a casserole.  Instead, help me to bridle my tongue when it gets to flapping, so that I can instead be a Peter, a James, or a John — full of faith and life-giving words.  I want to be on the inside with You, Lord, where healing and life take place.  Amen.    

“Well, what had happened was…”

(2 Samuel 22: 17-20) 17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 20 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

When I think of enemies, I do not think of human beings.  I guess to me, people are just people.  Yes, there are dangerous people.  Yes, there are groups of people who wish to do harm to others.  However, deep in my heart I understand that the only true enemy is the one who seeks to destroy souls.  Satan.  It’s okay.  You can say his name.  He’s just not that scary…he has, after all, been defeated.  Sure, he’s the enemy of our souls…but because of God’s word we have knowledge, and because of His word become flesh (JESUS) we have victory.

Just like with hope, we have to claim our victory.  Our thoughts and words are powerful, and when we use wisdom to control them, we are always a step ahead of the enemy. 

Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18: 20-21, The Message)

“You choose.”  That’s the love of God…freedom of choice…spacious places away from the deep waters…God delighting in us in the midst of our worst disasters.  So our words, they have to echo the love of God that is manifest in our lives.  Our words have to declare TESTIMONY.  That means we no longer keep it to ourselves.  We have share our rescue stories.  Imagine if you lived through a major tornado or hurricane, only to find yourself injured and buried beneath a pile of debris…but someone comes along, just when you have lost your voice and your last drop of hope, and piece by piece they remove the broken hunks of wood and shards of glass until at last you are gently pulled from the ruins.  Isn’t that a story you would share for the rest of your life?  Well, we have to quit thinking in physical terms!  You have a story to tell!  The testimony of Christ our Lord is exciting, and sharing it with others is how we overcome:  “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11).  You see, our words work together with the blood of Christ to overcome Satan.  That is power, friends…power entrusted to us by the One who delights in us.  Our enemy is powerful, of that there is no doubt, but the same power that conquered death and hell is what dwells within each of us.  Even if you were the only one, you would still triumph.  Thankfully though, we are not alone, and together, sharing our testimonies, operating in love and compassion, praying for one another, using the wisdom and truth of God’s word to guide us, we win.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for my testimony.  Thank you that I have a story to tell that can encourage others and spread hope.  Thank you that, through my difficulties and pain, You are made larger and your active love in my life is made evident to others.  Let my words be a source of everlasting life, and as You have delighted in me…I will delight in You.  Amen.

Who Have You Been Talking To?

(Proverbs 9:8-10) Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

In a world full of tweets, facebook posts, and snapchats, we have an ample supply of opinions. Some of the opinions given are not worth the space they take up. On the other hand, there are some people who have been given a divine gift to share wisdom which, when heeded, can encourage and develop an individual’s spirit. I’m always interested in receiving good advice from mentors that I trust. They can say anything and I will receive it with humility. However, there are others whose opinions are not that important to me. I may listen, but I quickly dismiss their words because they are not meant for encouragement. Instead, they are more interested in “selling” me something.

America is rife with opinions right now. The recent political elections have driven a wedge between democrats and republicans, husbands and wives, parents and children. News media outlets are touting their stories as the only ones worthy of consideration. 24 hour news shows put “reporters” in the unenviable position of being “commentators.” Hollywood personalities use their celebrity to broadcast personal opinions about the social dilemma of the day. People wake up in the morning anxious to discover what may have been tweeted in the night. And now, they don’t know if what they are hearing is legitimate or “fake news.”

The writer of Proverbs suggests that we should be careful who we speak to. In verse 8, he contrasts reproving (correcting) a scoffer and a wise man. He says one will hate you while the other will love you. In verse 9, he tells us that if you instruct a wise man, he will use it for advancement in wisdom and learning. The simple truth is there are some people who will not receive your words no matter what. In fact, they may become infuriated by any effort to influence their thinking.

There is a New Testament principle that applies here. Matthew 7:6 says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

We may think we have the answers to the world’s problems. In fact, we actually do have THE answer. It is Jesus. But, not everyone believes that. Sadly, there are more who will reject the message than those who will receive. We shouldn’t shirk back from sharing the good news that we have. But, the writer of Proverbs clearly and accurately states that only the wise will hear, receive, and be transformed. Instead of vehemently arguing with those who will never believe, sow your seed among the seekers of truth. It will produce a much greater harvest!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for writing Your wisdom upon the tablet of my heart. I’m thankful that my heart is full of divine wisdom; that my mind and spirit are shaped by Your words of life. Provide opportunities for me to drop the seed of wisdom into the soil of tender hearts, so they may grow into Your likeness. Amen.

There Are No Words…

[John 11:41-44 HCSB] 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You heard Me. 42 I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.” 43 After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out! ” 44 The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” 

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times through the years. Each time, I find myself intrigued by the various movements of the story; Jesus refusing to come immediately, His declaration that the sickness is not unto death and then telling the disciples that Lazarus had indeed died, Mary and Martha’s belief that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there, Jesus weeping over the loss of his friend. Then, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I could go on…

As I read the passage this time, something struck me that I had never noticed before. There was no record of rejoicing. None. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. How utterly unPentecostal! You would think they could have organized a small Jericho March, a hanky-wave, a shofar-blowing celebration. But, there is no record of a celebration at all. Nothing in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Only John wrote about this miraculous resurrection.

The majority of the text speaks of the relationships, delays, faith… Jesus obviously delayed so that a spiritual point could be made. So that trust could be solidified. There are many angles to be considered.

You want to know what I think? (Sure you do. After all, you are reading this!) I think there was a celebration. I think they did rejoice over this miraculous resurrection. Maybe Jesus, Lazarus, Martha and Mary went to the house and had a cup of coffee together! Jesus would have explained the purpose of the delay, and the specific words He spoke for the benefit of the gathered crowd. They probably laughed, talked about the good old days, and expressed genuine gratitude for a beautiful future. But, we will never know! Because there is no record of anything that happened after the resurrection.

So, what is the take away? Simply this. While thanksgiving and praise is always appropriate, it is not always the main thing. The work that Jesus did was the main thing. And, by omitting the reference to any type of human response, the spotlight stayed right where it belonged. On Jesus. Sometimes, there are simply no words…

PRAYER: Father, the work you are doing is, at times, indescribable. Though I may not be able to formulate adequate words, I acknowledge your purposes. I will praise you, and always make sure the spotlight remains on you! Amen.


(Isaiah 36:4-5 ESV) 4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?

I think I’m feeling unsettled right now about what I’m hearing. Everyday seems to be filled with words, words, and more words! People are speaking their minds about politics, the economy, elephants and donkeys, budgets, which public bathroom we should use; guns, entitlements, taxes, refugees, illegal aliens, deportation… words, Words, WORDS!!!

Everyone has an opinion about everything, and, of course, their opinion is always correct. “If you elect me, I will do so and so…” “No, if you elect me I will do such and such.” “If you marry me I will make you happy.” And the rhetoric continues building each day…

In our passage of scripture, Hezekiah was being tormented by the Rabshakeh (the name given to the chief cup-bearer or the vizier of the Assyrian court; one of Sennacherib’s messengers to Hezekiah). The Rabshakeh was threatening Hezekiah in behalf of his boss, the king of Assyria.

First, he tried to weaken Hezekiah’s faith by asking, On what do you rest this trust of yours?” In other words, prove the existence of your God. I can’t see him! What makes you think He will come through for you? Then, the Rabshakeh insults Hezekiah by implying that he had no strategy for victory—mere words! Notice, Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war?” He was basically telling Hezekiah that he was just full of hot air! All the words in the world would not help Hezekiah against his enemy. Finally, the Rabshakeh reminded Hezekiah that he had burned his bridges and could not rely on the King of Assyria for assistance. Those days were gone! His words were strong and meant to strike fear into the heart of Hezekiah. Listen to his tone…In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?

What the Rabshakeh didn’t understand was that Hezekiah wasn’t trusting in him OR the king of Assyria! Never did! And, he wasn’t going to start now!

Rabshakeh’s implication that mere words would be useless ultimately backfired! In the next chapter, Hezekiah used MERE WORDS to PRAY to God concerning the threat from the king of Assyria. MERE WORDS, when backed by faith-filled prayer IS strategy AND power for war. MERE WORDS (prayer) caused God to intervene and give Hezekiah an overwhelming victory.

So, use your words… And, use them wisely!

PRAYER: Father, I will use my words to thank you for the many times you have intervened in my life to produce blessing on my behalf. And, I intend to use my words to establish an ongoing atmosphere of faith! I trust You! Amen.

One Word

(Matthew 21:21-22 ESV) “Assuredly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea’, it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Not long ago the Lord spoke to me about the power of words. It’s amazing how one word can change our perception. As I was praying, I spoke what I meant to be a declaration of faith. I said, “Lord, You have never failed me yet.” Almost immediately, I sensed the Holy Spirit inquire, “Yet? At what point are you expecting me to fail you?”

 I realized that one word changed the focus of my declaration. ONE WORD!

If I pray, “God, You have never failed me.” I acknowledge the faithfulness of God. I declare that God is not capable of failure, and I’m expressing confidence in His desire to bless me in all things, in every way, at all times! In other words, I am Expecting The Best at all times.

However, if I say, “You have never failed me yet,” I’m leaving the door open to doubt. I’m leaving open the possibility that God could fail me in the future. Even though it has not been His track record with me; though He has come through every time…without fail. By adding that one word“yet”…I am making an inaccurate declaration that changes my expectation from faith to doubt.

Let’s be clear. I may fail. I may fall short. I may face consequences that accompany MY poor decisions. But, God…FAIL? Never!

So, today I’m determined to speak of God’s faithfulness. I will add to my faith by subtracting any words that invite doubt.

PRAYER: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 ESV)

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