Monday, April 27, 2015

Are Your Words Like Fire or Honey?

There once was a woman who gossiped about her neighbor, but later found out that rumor wasn’t true. Feeling ashamed, she sought the advice of a wise old man and asked him how she could repair the defamed person’s reputation. The sage instructed her to fill a bag with feathers and then put one on each person’s doorstep who heard the slanderous story. The woman did as she was told and then returned to present the empty sack. The elderly man then lifted his head and with a tear in his eye, he said, “Now go back to each doorstep and collect the feathers.” The woman ran out the door and down the street, but as she hurried to gather the feathers, she’d found that they had all blown away.

Words are like feathers caught in the breeze. They can never be retrieved.

Social media is a modern day doorstep. What is said on places like Facebook quickly goes viral and spreads like wildfire, even if the post isn’t true. Reputations are defamed and lives are changed when lies are shared without foresight. The tongue is a fire that can ruin a life (James 3:6), but without wood the fire goes out (Proverbs 26:20).

Words cannot be unsaid, but they can be forgiven (1 John 1:9). The following verses may be an encouragement and motivation to tame the tongue:

He that refrains his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).

He that has knowledge spares his words (Proverbs 17:27).

He who guards his mouth preserves his life (Proverbs 13:3).

He who covers a transgression seeks love; but he who repeats a matter separates very friends (Proverbs 17:9).

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

Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24). 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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Monday, April 20, 2015

What You Say is What You Get!

The tongue is the most powerful member of your body. Not your glutes, not your quads, shoulders, back or biceps. The words that roll off your tongue are so potent that they have the power to move mountains and change lives for good or for bad.  Words will determine the course of a life just as a bit in a horse’s mouth will determine the direction its body will turn (James 3:3).

The Bible states that what we say is what we get. We speak what we believe, many times to our demise when we are snared by the words of our mouths (Proverbs 6:2). We say things like, “Nothing ever goes right for me,” or “I don't believe that will work” and then wonder why our lives are a mess, or we’re not empowered when we pray.

Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). If we’re feeding our minds and hearts negative information, our lives will take a negative turn, because what enters our eyes and ears determines what we think and believe, and eventually shows up in our lives by way of our words and actions. (Read more in Guard Your Heart.) 

Jesus said that we will have what we say, and that we can move mountains and change lives by believing, praying, and speaking our desires. He said that if a person “shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass: he shall have whatsoever he says” (Mark 11:22-24).

Most of us have had a lopsided view of this promise, believing that only the good things we say will come to pass. Yet this verse does not differentiate between good and bad. It doesn't say that whatever you believe and say that is good will come to you. It says you shall have WHATEVER, that means whatever you believe and say, whether good or bad.  

People tend to believe that if they use negative words, they will get positive results, which rarely ever happens. Some believe that by criticizing a person it will motivate him or her to do better. They say things like, “You’re fat, dumb, lazy or sloppy” in hopes of prodding the person to lose weight, study harder, get a job, or clean up his act. The critic doesn't seem to understand that the motivation to rise and better another person does not come through negative words of condemnation, but through positive words of praise.

Therefore, criticism keeps the recipient stuck in his situation, fulfilling the conditions that Jesus set forth,“You shall have whatsoever you say.” Tell your co-worker, spouse, or child that he  or she is stupid or a loser and they will not disappoint you. They will live out your low expectation of them, unless they have enough inner-fortitude to rise up and prove you wrong. On the flip-side, if you tell them that they did a good job they will be encouraged to do even better.

On judgment day, we shall give account for every idle word that we have spoken and be justified or condemned by them (Matthew 12:36). This life review may be like an echo, as our words bounce back to us to have a positive or negative effect on our lives. Words have the power to create or destroy. Therefore, our desire and prayer should be, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lordmy strength, and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Guard Your Heart

Suppose Jane is using a camera phone to video Sally preparing a meal. Sally slices onions, peppers, and mushrooms then puts them in a wok and stirs the vegetables. If you stopped recording right there and played the video back, you would see the exact same images that went into the phone, Sally preparing and cooking a meal. The video doesn’t show Sally dusting furniture, making a bed, or taking a walk. The device captured and copied what it “saw” and “heard” and projected it onto the screen.

The camera lens and the audio receiver are similar to our eyes and ears. The images and sounds we see and hear are caught and then sent to the recording device in our minds. Trivial thoughts are soon forgotten, but remarkable or repetitive thoughts are embedded in our hearts where they eventually come out of our mouths and show up on the screens of our lives.

Children are most impressionable to what they see and hear, because their innocent minds lack a strong gatekeeper at this young age. But we as adults can control what we see and hear by being vigilant to what we allow to enter our eyes and ears. Having this knowledge is key to controlling our emotions and even our destinies.

Everything we do begins with a thought or command and then the body responds either positively or negatively to this input. Many images and words have an immediate effect on how the body reacts: An embarrassing comment causes a shy person to blush. Viewing or reading porn creates a feeling of misguided arousal. An enlistee in boot camp snaps to attention at the sergeant’s command. Seeing and helping the needy creates feelings of fulfillment and joy. All of these responses come forth unbidden after the thoughts entered the mind.

Thoughts are like seeds that grow into flowers, fruit, or weeds. They follow the same natural and spiritual laws of sowing and reaping. What goes into our minds via our senses, especially by way of our eyes and ears, is what will grow and show up in our lives. If we plant corn we will always, always get corn, not tomatoes. Sally’s stir-fry video will never show up as an image of her riding a horse. The sights and sounds planted in our minds will eventually project in our lives. As a man thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

The best way to eliminate negative and detrimental thinking is to renew our minds and fill our hearts with faith ( Romans 12:2, Romans 10:17).

Guard your heart for out of it spring forth the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Can You be a Godly Influence in a Godless Society?

Two of the most well-known Bible stories are Joseph and his “coat of many colors” and Daniel in the lion’s den. Ironically, though over 1,000 years separate these men, they have many things in common that we can learn from today.
Both men were uprooted from their homes and planted in foreign lands when they were teenagers. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up living in Egypt (Genesis 37:28). Daniel was taken captive by the Babylonians and he ended up living in Babylon (Daniel 1:1).
Both men were faithful to God and obeyed Him without reservation even while living amid heathen people (Daniel 5:11, Genesis 39:6-12 / Daniel 1:8, Daniel 6:10).

Both men were unjustly accused and thrown into a prison (Genesis 39:20 / Daniel 6:16), yet because of their sterling faith in God, the chief guard exalted Joseph in prison and the king fasted for Daniel’s safety while he was in the lion's den. (Genesis 39:22 / Daniel 6:18).

Both men were forced to live in cultures that were contrary to their beliefs, yet they lived their lives without compromising their convictions.

Both men respected their leaders and did not resort to complaining, judging, name-calling, or revolting amid the culture filled with sorcerers, magicians, and idolaters.

And as a result, because of their unflinching faith and devotion to God, they both became men of influence.
God used Joseph to save a country from starvation (Genesis 41:35-36) and God used Daniel in the conversion of two kings (Daniel 4:37, Daniel 6:25-26).

Both men ascended to great heights and became powerful men in the political arena, influencing and bettering the lives of the people (Genesis 41:40-41, Daniel 2:48, Daniel 6:2-3). They served among the ungodly while living out their unshakable faith.
In the New Testament, Jesus is the perfect balance and example of godly influence and living. He loved and mingled with sinners and yet preached repentance and acceptance of Him in order to enter His Heavenly Kingdom (Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3). Fear will keep us in our comfort zone. Faith and firm footing on the Solid Rock of His Word will give us the courage to stand for Christ, love and serve other people, and become a positive influence in society.