Tag Archives: words

I Kings 7; Ephesians 4; Ezekiel 37; Psalm 87, 88

I sometimes think all things should work out for me, here and now; as if I should completely find rest and satisfaction on earth. Expectations of God, of others, of me, and impatiently waiting for it to happen, now. Entitlement – a word to describe the belief that one inherently deserves privileges or special treatment. And I have no qualm in declaring with other worshipers, “All my springs are in you,” (Psalm 87:7). Hint to God.

Reality often strikes the senses like plunging your dry, warm body into a frigid pool of black water – shocking, awakening, slicingly sharp. Each time, I go back to my knees. Regroup, re-read Scripture, PRAY…“O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry,” (Psalm 88:1, 2). Then more waiting…

When I forget that I have been redeemed, reborn, I feel like Israel who cried out to God, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (Ezekiel 37:11) Yet, regardless of my culpability in getting lost, God reminds me of His unfailing love. He demonstrates His mighty mercy to Israel and by their example, to me. God took the prophet Ezekiel to a valley to see dry, bleached bones come together; sinews attach, and flesh cover as the bones came to life. He gives this same promise of restoration and revival to the drought within this earthly temple, this jar of clay, me. And even if these promises become sparks of light He shoots out of my fingertips to others, I will be glad. Like King David who dedicated his personal goods to the future sanctuary that his son Solomon, not David himself, would build; I take pleasure in being a conduit for translating concern for the things of God to my family and others in my little sphere of influence. I can make every word count, every effort all in, every passion submitted.

Ephesians 4:29, 31, 32 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If my heart is turned to pleasing my heavenly Father and loving others, then the things of earth will pale in importance. How easy it is to trust God when my heart is set on obeying His commands. How satisfying it is to forget that I am and immerse myself in the “Great I AM.”

 

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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1 Samuel 23; 1 Corinthians 4; Ezekiel 2; Psalm 38

Any story of David inspires me somewhere along my journey of faith.  One that has dramatically made a difference was calling on God and asking His input on any decision that I had to make.

David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” – I Samuel 23:2 NRSV

The entire act of prayer is one of humility – that is for sure – but the practice of listening and hearing God’s voice as David did – that was revolutionary in my life.

You can imagine when you walk in a room and declare that “I have heard from God.” A bit scary because it kind of slants the position of power in the room.  I learned quickly that what God shared with me was for my information and that I was to dispense what I knew in love.

For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? – 1 Corinthians 4:20-21 NRSV

And yet, there are moments, when speaking into the lives of others, especially when I am preparing a sermon to deliver to a wide audience on a Sunday morning – I need to remember to speak His Words – they are life, and mine are not.

 You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.  – Ezekiel 2:7 NRSV

This is actually important stuff – listening to God – what happens if He does not say anything?  One story comes to mind right away – Saul refusing to wait for Samuel to give him instructions and blessing for an upcoming battle.  He felt so threatened that he went ahead without waiting.  David comes back to me again and screams at me – wait, wait I say on the Lord!  If I am going to listen, I am going to have to wait for an answer.

But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. – Psalm 38:15 NRSV

Thank you Lord for your gracious patience as I learn to wait.  Your grace makes my journey of faith enjoyable, exciting and adventurous.  As I continue to learn so much from David’s walk with You, may the moments where I feel I have waited enough or too long, be just that, moments.  Instead may my heart rest on the fact that I trust You completely – so my hope is in no other. Amen

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Ezekiel 1-3; John 1

A call and a commission. Ezekiel witnessed great things–the hand of the Lord was upon him.

(The Lord gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him.) Ezekiel 1:3, NLT.

The Lord said,

“Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or refuse to listen—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.

“Son of man, do not fear them or their words. Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels. You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious! Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in their rebellion. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.” Ezekiel 2:3-8, NLT. (emphasis mine)

I pay attention when the Lord speaks of words. While the vision Ezekiel saw eludes me, the Lord’s focus on words takes hold of me.

Do not fear them or their words.

The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:1-3, NLT.

Open your mouth and eat what I give you–and it was words.

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1-5, NLT

John the Baptist received a call and a commission. He spoke of the Lord and prepared a way in the wilderness.

John and Ezekiel received a call to take their words and speak them–words that would either win hearts or not.

Words have power when spoken, and withheld.

God, help me to be a good steward of words. Fill me with your Word (life-changing, light, love). Help me to make my words ones that show I belong to you, and not this world. You know the importance words have in my life, down to even having a home mantra. May my words, my actions, my very life–may it all show I am yours.

Courtney (66books365)

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Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45; Psalm 133; James 3

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 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. James 3:1-12

I’ve been told by a handful of people that I should have been a lawyer because of how well I can present an argument; I’m pretty sure that a couple of those comment were not meant as compliments at the time.

Words are my greatest asset and at the same time lead to downfall. Controlling my tongue has by far been one of the hardest parts on my journey as a believer. When I get excited about something, I won’t stop talking about it, sharing everything with others, often to the point of too much information. When I get angry, I won’t stop talking – sometimes the better word would be yelling – trying to prove my point, the reason I’m angry, in the hopes that it will convince others to side with me.

Worst of all, I know that I am completely out of control when four letter words start popping out of mouth, unfortunately sometimes in front of my kids. In my past, I used to joke that my language would make a sailor blush (apologies to all the sailors who aren’t foul-mouthed).

In various stages in my walk with Christ, I have gained much control over my mouth and the words that waterfall out. I have reigned myself in, with the help of Holy Spirit – learned how to hold my tongue even when desperate to talk, practiced giving others the chance to add their input to the conversation, breaking habits of using bad words as an instant emotion release and as the means to feeling more powerful in the moment.

I’m in a season right now, where I am really struggling with controlling my tongue. As a solo mom of three wonderful, yet very high spirited and strong willed children under the age of five, I am exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed out, stretched too thin, did I mention exhausted…and running on empty makes it much harder to control those outbursts in the midst of repetitive daily frustrations.

It is said that the tongue can bring life or death and I want mine to be a bringer of life.

Yesappa, Thank You for giving me the gift of words, for allowing me to share with the world through writing and speaking, by teaching Your Word to those who will listen and hear. Lord, help me better control my tongue, that it won’t be venom to my loved ones, but that it will build-up and encourage. Help my words bring life to my husband, my children, my family and friends, and even the people who seem to be my enemies. Remove the curses from my mouth and fill me with words of love, peace, patience, kindness…and when all that bubbles up is unedifying, help me hold my tongue, keeping silent, instead of lashing out with my two-edged sword. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Genesis 3-5; Matthew 2

The serpent persuaded her with words. (Her eyes sealed the deal with want.)

The following verses are like stepping stones leading down a path. The Lord speaks, and there is choice. Listen, or don’t.

He cares. He warns. He commands. Those who listen show wisdom–those who don’t believe to be wise in their own eyes.

  • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6 ESV.
  • 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:11 ESV.
  • but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:5-7
  • 21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24 ESV
  • 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:12 ESV
  • 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt … Matthew 2:13-14 ESV
  • 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go …” Matthew 2:19-22 ESV

Lord, You speak still. I want to be like Enoch and walk with You. I want to know Your voice (to hear it and heed it), and not be persuaded and deceived by unsteady and changing influences of a culture (or even my very own whims). I pray to draw even closer to You through Your Word this year.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ruth 1; Acts 26; Jer. 36, 45; Ps. 9

Jeremiah was in prison, but had a message to get out. He dictated the message to Baruch, who then took it and read it aloud to others.

16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. Jeremiah 36:16 NLT.

(Not everyone appreciated this message. King Jehoiakim burned the scroll.)

Paul stood before King Agrippa with the opportunity to speak his defense. He told his message to a full room.

19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.” Acts 26:19-23 NLT.

While hearts may not have been convicted in that moment, Paul left an impression.

32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32 NLT.

Naomi and Ruth were both widowed. Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back to their mothers and start over. But Ruth stayed, pledging loyalty and companionship to Naomi.

15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:15-18 NLT.

Testimony can affect a community, a full room, an individual.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1 NLT

Our dog ran away yesterday, and my kids were crushed. I searched through neighboring back yards. We got in the car and drove around. No dog. So I prayed out loud in the car while we searched. Prayed that God would watch over our dog and return her to us unharmed. It was a risky prayer–there are many acres of forest around us, and high-speed roads. So many what-ifs … (Thankfully, a few hours later a nearby farm owner spotted our dog swimming in their pond and called us.)

I praised the Lord the drive home, with stinky pond dog in the back seat.

I know, too, sometimes answered prayers don’t look the way I thought they would. Years of struggle and effort and striving were fruitless. I sat at night at the Lord’s feet and cried to him. In that season, the sadness and disappointment and confusion brought me closer to the Lord. In those circumstances and through his word, I began to know him better. Trust was strengthened. When others abandoned, the Lord did not.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10 NLT.

God uses the happy endings, and the not-so-happy endings. In any case, I will testify of something, and that testimony will speak to others.

Father, thank you for examples like Paul, Ruth and Jeremiah–people who had a message to share, whose lives and messages still influence today. Help me to be mindful that my words and actions send a message too.

Courtney (66books365)

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Leviticus 27; Psalms 34; Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2

The words of the wise bring them praise, but the words of a fool will destroy them…A fool talks too much. Ecclesiastes 10:12; 14a (NCV)

Every now and then, especially in the midst of an argument, I have these moments where I realize that sometimes I talk too much. My husband says I should have been a lawyer instead of a missionary, because I always know how to argue my point like I am aiming to win in court.

The fact is I don’t always use my words in a life-giving way. I complain. I whine and moan. I vent my frustrations with the double edged sword of my tongue. I admit I even raise my voice from time to time, hoping that an increase in volume will increase my ability to be understood or at least heard.

After it is all said and done, I often regret the verbal vomit I spewed. I know I have made myself look the fool at times, before friends, family, and even complete strangers. And I wish I had just kept my big mouth shut.

It is an area of myself I am continually taking before God, a request for self-control and restraint. Over the past few years, as I have been getting more and more accustomed to being a new creation, I have realized that there are a few choices that I have to make each day that are vital in order for me to adopt a mouth of the wise:

1) I have to actively choose to think about how what I allow to come out of my mouth might affect myself and the people around me. Are the words bouncing around, yearning to escape encouraging, something that will build-up rather than tear-down? Do they offer life or usher in death?

Speak the truth so that you cannot be criticized. Then those who are against you will be ashamed because there is nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:8 (NCV)

2) I have to actively choose to always speak the truth, in love. Things that need to be said can always be shared in more than one way. If I am honest, but offer those truths in a hard, unloving way, it opens the door for strife. But, if I am truthful in an authentic, loving way, it removes the enemy’s ability to cause discord with my words.

I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise is always on my lips. My whole being praises the Lord. Psalm 34:1-2a

3)      And most importantly, I have to actively choose to put my attention on God. When I focus on Him, my mind is renewed and my thoughts are bathed in His wisdom. And when my thoughts are aligned with Heaven, my words follow suit and I am able to interact from a place of love, grace, and mercy.

It is a journey, and I pray that one day I will notice I am much better at censoring my words, considering before I speak, and speaking through a lens of love, to myself and to others.

Help me Holy Ghost!

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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