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

It hit its mark. The crowd around him heard the noise but had no idea of its effect. How could they know that the wound caused by the shot went straight to the soul? The victim would never be the same.

The Bible is very clear about the power of the tongue. On the one hand it can spread goodness and elevate the needy to heights never imagined. But when used to attack, it is a weapon of mass destruction leaving the lives of many promising people to wallow in failure.

Negative words destroy potential. They come from exasperated parents who ask the ‘hard questions’. “How can you be so stupid?” “Why can’t you be more like your ‘brother/sister?” “You’ll never amount to anything. You are too much like your mother/father.”

The words sting. They go deep to the soul. Tearing apart. Gashing all the way. They leave a gaping wound. A wound that the  victim will spend the rest of his/her life trying to fill with relationships, toys or chemicals. They try soothing the pain by inflicting pain on others, hoping in some way to lessen their own pain.

If 100 people compliment you throughout your day and one person makes a negative comment about you, the negative comment will stick with you for the remainder of the day or even longer. Much as you try to dispel it, the words cut like a knife and obliterate the positive comments made.

It’s time to stop believing the lies of your past. The words spoken in anger, in sarcasm or ‘in joking’ were lies. You can accomplish great things as a child of the Living God. He created you with special gifts, God-given abilities to make a difference in the lives of others. It doesn’t matter what others have told you. You are valuable. You are a jewel, a diamond in the rough, because of Jesus!

You hold the power for life and death by the very words you speak when it comes to others. When you have a firm grasp of who you are, when you truly believe that you are God’s very special creation, then you can work to build up others. It can be as simple as a smile and a thank you. It can be as challenging as being patient when the same mistake is made for the umpteenth time with no hope in sight that anything will change…except that the perpetrator is also God’s creation given to you so you can change their world!

From this day forward covenant with God that you will no longer believe the lies of your past. From this day forward rely on God’s Holy Spirit to make a difference in the lives of others by the words you speak.

PRAYER: Holy God. Years ago I received the wound. I’ve borne the pain of it all this time. It’s time to tell myself the truth about me. I am your child. I am created in your image. I’m not stupid. I’m not worthless. I can and will amount to something! Forgive me for believing the lies of others. Help me to forgive them for their attacks. Empower me to build up those around me that have also experience the wound. Amen.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

The Bible has always linked the mind with our intellect and the heart with our emotions. In Psalm 19 David proclaims the magnificent Glory of God. He recounts the many blessings each of us have received as a result of His love. He’s in awe of the majestic beauty of God’s wonderful creation.

As he nears the end of his ‘praise session’ it’s as if in the midst of his words he is reminded of his own inability to live worthy of the love God has for him. Even in things that seem so small in man’s eyes, the words we speak and the way we feel.

It’s really no surprise that David links our words with how we feel. Jesus likens harsh language towards a brother as equal to murder. James comments that if any man is perfect in the words he speaks he is a perfect man. The implication is that even if we could be perfect in every other action in our lives, and hold every thought captive, it’s our mouths that get us in the most trouble!

If we are honest with ourselves, most of the time our language gets us in trouble when we feel like we are being attacked physically, mentally or emotionally. Sometimes those feelings of attack are valid. There are people around us who use the subtle weapons of sarcasm, tone of voice and body language to tell us, in essence, that we don’t measure up.

As David pondered the greatness of his God he came to a point where his desire was that even in his words God would be glorified. People can’t see our minds and our thoughts. They can, however hear our words and see how emotions control us. Our words and emotions should reflect who we are in Jesus Christ. When we live according to the facts of who we are in Him then the attacks of other people won’t affect us because we know the truth about ourselves.

As we grow closer in relationship to Jesus through prayer, Bible study/reading and body life our words and feelings about ourselves and others will reflect the Glory of God and be pleasing in His sight. We will be a sweet aroma and soothing oil to God and others.

PRAYER: Holy God. I am in awe of your majestic creation. I see the lofty mountains and the fertile plains. I see the animal world in perfect harmony with your will. Your beauty and splendor is unmatched and I give you all the praise and all the glory. I ask that you would help me to better see who I am in you. When the attacks come against me I ask that I would respond according to who I am and not react the way my attacker has. Forgive me for the sarcastic words, the belittling comments and the other tools I use to defend who I am. As your child I realize I have no need to defend myself. I am yours and that is enough. Amen.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24

Why is it that some people seem to have the ability to pray for things and see those things come to pass while others pray and it seems like their prayers never get past the ceiling? The Bible is full of examples of great men and women of God who have prayed for personal or national healing and deliverance and seen great things happen.

Even in our world we hear of people who have prayed for miracles to happen in their lives and seen God work mightily in making things happen. Yet for many of us, while we ‘believe’ God CAN do anything, in those quiet times we confess to ourselves that ‘He won’t do those things in me.

There are many lessons we can learn from the story in the Gospel of Mark about faith, about prayer and about doubt. The fact of the matter is, if we believe God is who we say He is, and if we really believe that His power can accomplish anything, and then we have to believe that Jesus’ words are true. If we have the faith, we can move mountains.

When we pray for miracles to happen, one thing we must ask ourselves is this. “Who gets the glory for my answer?” Many times our prayers are self-seeking. That’s not necessarily the same as self-ish. Selfish can have a negative connotation. Self-seeking simply means that in reality, we want this miracle for us. It will make us feel better about ourselves, it will make others respect us more or it will in some way make my life easier.

There are many times in Jesus’ ministry when He made the statement that ‘this was done so My Father will be glorified’. Our Father in Heaven is more than willing and able to do ANYTHING we ask, but our motives must be in the right place. Everything we do in life should be with the desire to see God glorified and His name proclaimed to those in our world.

Secondly, when we pray for miracles we must remember that God has promised that He knows what is best for us. In one of Jesus’ teachings on prayer He asks this question: “If a child asks his father for bread would that father give him a stone?” The answer of course is, “NO, never!” We know that a loving father would never give his child something bad for him when he needs something good. But the opposite is also true. If we ask our Heavenly Father for something we honestly think will be good for us, but in the big picture it could be harmful, He won’t give it to us. He loves us to much to give us things that will hurt us.

Draw close to Jesus. Walk with him daily. Read His love letter to you. Pray believing that He CAN answer your prayers and trust Him to answer those prayers in the way that will be the best for you and bring glory to him.

PRAYER: Father God, I have to admit that there are many times when I’ve prayed and been disappointed in your response to me. There are so many things I’ve prayed for that haven’t happened and now, when I pray I doubt you will really answer. Forgive me for my lack of faith. Empower me with Your Spirit to pray believing you hear me and that even when I don’t get what I want, you will give me everything I need. Amen.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

I used to work at a factory where there was this old man, I’ll call him John, who was a walking Bible Encyclopedia. He was a short, stout little man who walked with a bit of a limp due to years of hard work on the farm and arthritis which had attacked him.

John wasn’t afraid to open ever conversation with something from the bible, a verse, a thought, a question about where you were with the Lord. He was a humble man with a captivating smile and a twinkle in his eye, and although he was a humble man, he wasn’t afraid to ‘boast’ a bit about the fact that he’d read the Bible through every year for 40 years! The man knew his Bible and he loved Jesus dearly.

While there were some that mocked John when he wasn’t around, no one turned him away when he stopped by to talk. He was a well respected man and when he died a few years later the church was packed with fellow factory workers, community people, family and friends, some of whom John had lead to a saving faith in Jesus.

The interesting thing to me about John is that there was nothing that would really draw you to the man. He was sort of, well, goofy in some ways and simple in others. He didn’t press himself on you, but he wasn’t afraid to ask how you were and give you advice on how to live life. He wasn’t concerned about how other people thought of him. He WAS concerned about what Jesus thought of him.

In the wisdom of Proverbs we see the way to living a life of peace. The way to living in peace is to focus on living for Jesus. It’s interesting to note there are three players in this short verse. Myself, God and my enemies. But my enemies are the third player and not directly involved in the process. The most important players are me and God.

There will always be those people who oppose us. We’ll be judged for our past, our family background, our gender, or life-style, our convictions, even our hair color. The list is endless of things people will be able to find to judge you on. Opposition in life is inevitable. If you aren’t opposed by SOMEONE in life about SOMETHING then you are doing NOTHING! It’s God’s job to deal with our enemies. Our only responsibility is to make sure we are in right relationship with Him.

What is important for us as Christ-followers is that we don’t give the enemy any ammunition. Peter tells us “Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.” (1 Peter 2:20). Many times we complain about persecution or attack and fail to realize that sometimes the actions against us are at least partially our own fault.

The message of Proverbs 16:7 is this. Make the main focus of your life today, to live for Jesus. Rely on His Spirit to guide your thoughts, actions and words. In this way, even though people will oppose you they will have no evidence to back up their attack. They may not like you, but they will have to admit (if nothing else to themselves) that their attacks are unjustified. Each of should live in such away that even our most vicious enemies will say, “I don’t like them, but I have to admit they seem to have their act together!”

 PRAYER: Father God. You know better than I that there are people in my life that oppose me for many reasons. Some of those reasons may be justified. I ask that you would give me the wisdom and strength to resolve those to the best of my ability. I also pray that you would empower me to live from this day forward in such a way that others will have no evidence to convict me of their negative feelings about me. What I really want God, is for you to be glorified in my daily life to all that I come in contact with. I give you all the praise and glory for this. Amen.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—     of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

During a particularly stressful time in my life I learned to hate darkness. Everything I had counted on in life was gone. I faced a bleak future. My thoughts were riddled by guilt, shame, embarrassment and fear. I hated closing my eyes and would stay up into the wee hours of the morning afraid to sleep, and more fearful of what morning might bring.

In the morning, nothing had changed. The fear of the future and guilt from my past was still there. Huge gaping wounds slashed across my emotions. But the fear seemed abated because there was light. I could see what was around me.

In the Bible light is a common figure for comfort. Light brings us strength when we can’t go on. Light is a stronghold, giving us a sense of security. Light warms more than the soil and the air around us. Light warms our very soul.

Jesus Christ is referred to as the light of the world. When we follow Him and grow in a relationship with Him, His love and forgiveness dispels the shadows and warms the coldness of our hearts. The painful ordeals life can bring us will still be there. We’ll still fail. We’ll still feel some of the pain as the wounds heal and the scars slowly disappear. But in the midst of our pain we see hope.

Light also shows us where the dirt is. As we earnestly seek a closer walk with Jesus, His light finds those dark corners of our lives where we’ve forgotten about areas that need to be cleaned up. But He doesn’t just leave us there to clean up the mess! Through His Holy Spirit He gives us the power to cut through the dirt of our lives so we can better reflect His light in us to those around us.

Jesus. The light of my world. The source of comfort. The foundation of my security. The only One who can supply my every need emotionally, spiritually and physically. Without Him I never would have seen my way through the darkness. Friends fail. Family fails. Relationships fail. Jesus NEVER fails.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I thank you that you are the light of the world. Please be the light of my world. You alone know the pain I am feeling. You alone know the emptiness of my soul, the shame of poor decisions and the struggle I have to survive. I ask that you empower me by your Holy Spirit to feel the warmth of your sunshine on my face so that I can see my world in a whole new, exciting way. Amen.

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May 2010
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