“What Would Jesus Say?” – part 2

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4

Purpose.  Purpose.  Purpose.  This is how Jesus spoke.

Continuing to cover this verse in Isaiah, we see that Jesus never used words in a flyaway fashion.  With everything He spoke, it was either with a purpose, for a purpose, or to fulfill a purpose – or all three in one.

When we think of “with a purpose”, we can think along the lines of healing, miracles, and deliverances.  Jesus, in those instances, spoke with the intent to deliver an individual from some illness, or spiritual oppression, or to perform a miracle such as the feeding of the five thousand.

When we think in terms of “for a purpose”, we can think along the lines of the parables He taught.  In those instances, He spoke for His audience to gain a greater understanding of something, particularly Kingdom principles.

And, when we think in terms of Jesus speaking to “fulfill a purpose”, we can easily associate this with prophecies such as the one He spoke from the cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  Those exact words open the Messianic psalm found in Psalm 22:1.

Jesus used His words with exactness and preciseness.  In this chosen verse in Isaiah, we see His words were carefully chosen “that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.”  The right words at the right time, especially for the weary worn, are a special kind of sweetness to a soul that dreadfully needs it.  Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones,” and nobody could do this better than the Lord Jesus Christ.  He said, “…the word that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63).

Becoming more aware of the intentionality of our words can help us to use our speech in a way that mimics that of our Savior.  Words without aim tend to get us in trouble.  The Bible encourages us that “He that hath knowledge spareth his words. . .” (Proverbs 17:27), while opposite that it warns, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. . .” (Proverbs 10:19a).

A wise person, Proverbs continues to teach, is one that “that refraineth his lips” (Proverbs 10:19b).  Not only does this one refrain speech from being unnecessary and unprofitable but a person who acts with this sort of discipline can also be seen as one who will train their words.

Previously, I wrote,

“James gives us the best possible illustrations of the power of the tongue by referencing it to two things we can easily understand.  In James 3:3-4 he writes, “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths,  that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.”  Through these two examples using a horse and a ship, James shows that mankind has down through the years discovered ways to bring these powerful objects under control.

Both of these instruments are used for control.  They both direct the course of which way the operator wants each to go, be it a rider or the governor.Both are great examples of how these large and strong objects can be made to comply with the will of him who is controlling that little, vital piece.  If these little things under proper control can move great objects into obeisance at its master’s will, what more of the little tongue?” (Word for Life Says/ Don’t Speak Against the Destiny God Has For You!)

We may sometimes struggle with guiding our tongue in which way to go, but Jesus’ tongue was always controlled with purpose and aim, and just as His Father, those words were spoken with the intention to see them fulfilled (Isaiah 55:11).

We have the power to discipline our speech, to train our words in which way they should go.  The Holy Spirit is our guide and if we are actively applying the fruit of the Spirit principles found in Galatians 5:22-23, the whole of our lives, including the way we speak, will have a good aim and be filled with good purposes.

How we direct our mouths is up to us.  When our lips part to speak, may they speak the same way Jesus would.

This three-part mini-series is adapted from a Sunday School Lesson I previously published titled 4 Ways to Use Words Better.  You can click on that link if you are looking for a deeper study on this topic.

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Count Your Blessings!

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:” Psalm 103:2

I love Autumn.  To me, it is a season of tucking in.  The air turns a little cooler, with just a hint of crispness touching you amid the fall breezes.  Smells change as we turn from super floral fragrances to that of cinnamon, spice, and everything nice.  Schedules, prayerfully, slow down a bit as the run around of summer dissipates and more time is gathered around home and family.

For me, the feeling of fall brings an added bonus.  It seems that with the shifting of seasons we become more reflective and our hearts turn more to being appreciative of what we have and have been blessed with.

One day recently, things did not go according to plan.  My schedule was shot and the things I had on my agenda for the day – well, most of them didn’t happen.  But, as I spent time thinking about it, I just began to mentally thank God for all the things He did allow me to do.  Although my plans went awry, I was able, in those moments, to be there for others, to support them, and help them.

Lately, I have felt a strong impression on my heart to literally count my blessings.  Not by number, but by being more appreciative of daily things.  The day may have been hard and full of work that was strenuous, but I thank God that I was able to work it.  I may not have gotten the whole house clean, but I thank God for the small chores that I was able to accomplish.  The food on the table may not have been food cooking show worthy, but I thank God, not only for the food but for the opportunity to serve my family in this capacity on this day.

In the little things, as well as the big things in life, there are so many reasons to be grateful.  If we truly took a moment to reflect, we would readily say that God has been so good to us.

Life is going to happen.  And while we are living, it’s going to happen to us all.  Some days are going to go off perfectly, without a hitch, and we’ll feel like we can take on the world.  Other days may feel like a constant struggle – just making it through – can’t wait until bedtime comes and bring this day to a close.

Whatever the day brings, may our hearts find reminders of gratefulness in it.  Focusing more on God and the blessings that He has already provided can tip the scales, allowing the counting of blessings to far outweigh any negatives we may face.

How does Autumn speak to you?  Do the changes of the seasons stir special feelings inside you?

Whatever this season brings you, I pray God’s best for you in it all.

Blessings ~

“Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;” Psalm 105:5

“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12

“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 118:29

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

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“What Would Jesus Say?” – part 1

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4

Words, despite the children’s poems we recite, we know and have more than likely experienced the stinging effect of the wrong words spoken at the wrong time.  We know that just as easily as words can build, they can also tear down and hurt the receiver of them.

One thing is certain, our world is full of words and full of people who like to use words.  The human language and the ability to communicate with one another is a beautiful thing.  It is when we mar that beauty with unrighteous speech rolling off our tongues and flowing from our mouths that we get into trouble.

People have practiced communication skills for centuries, and yet, when it comes to the daily application of speech, sometimes we falter and do not use the words that God has given us in a healthy and productive manner.

If we are going to learn how to use the tongue healthily, the best example is that of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus had all the right words at the right time.  He knew how to speak compassion when it was needed most.  He knew how to speak conviction in truth without berating another.  And Jesus knew how to speak life.

In Isaiah 50:4, we see the prophesied Servant, whom we know to be the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ talking about the words He uses and the way He uses them to speak.  There He says, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak. . .” 

Never do we see Jesus in the Bible using words in a frivolous or lackadaisical manner.  Words and how they are used are powerful, and Jesus, just as His Father, knew the value of words and used them as such.  To Him, everything that came out of His mouth was to be treated carefully.

Jesus’ heart was always, and I do mean always, to do the will of the Father (John 6:38).  In everything, right down to going to the cross, God’s will was His number one priority (Luke 22:42).  With the will of God governing His whole life and ministry, even the words He spoke had to be what “The Lord GOD hath given me.” 

In Isaiah, that which was given is described as “the tongue of the learned;” as one who had been taught by God what to say and how to say it.  One can speak something that is true, but how the message is delivered can affect how another receives it.

In John 12:49-50, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”  Jesus, even in His speech, sought to bring glory and honor to the Father.

Through this, we see that Jesus was very strategic with the words He uses.  In this part, we have learned that Jesus is our best example in valuing words and in understanding the importance of using speech that is not only healthy but also God-honoring.  Jesus treated the words He spoke very carefully, and we should too.

In the days coming, we are going to explore this verse further in two more parts of this three-part mini-series.  May we learn what God wants us to say and how to say it, so that we, too,  may have “the tongue of the learned” relating to one another in speech even as Jesus did, so that we will know how to speak. 

This three-part mini-series is adapted from a Sunday School Lesson I previously published titled 4 Ways to Use Words Better.  You can click on that link if you are looking for a deeper study on this topic.

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Jesus is Greater!

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things . . .” Hebrews 1:1-2

The writer of Hebrews opens his book with the exaltation of Christ over all and declares that God “hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,” (Hebrews 1:2). As the rightful heir, His supremacy is beautifully noted.

“Therefore,” Hebrews 2:1 tells us, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

Many believe the recipients of this letter are early Jewish Christians whose faith has come under attack, and they needed encouragement to hold on to the words of Christ, to hold onto the gospel message they received lest they “let them slip.”

When one “slips,” it is usually a backward path into old ways, and this is what was threatening their current faith.  The old ways, that were attached to the older religious system, that came before the securing and atoning death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, were trying to prevail and draw people backward.  In his writings, the author of Hebrews continues to teach and explain that Christ is greater than those old ways.  He is greater than Moses, greater than the old religious system and priesthood, greater the angels (read Hebrews 2-3 for more), and all that came before Him (although technically, Christ was before all of them – see John 1:1-5; 8:58).  He is simply greater in every way.

Is there something plaguing your current faith today? Has something infiltrated your dedication to the Lord and is seeking to pull you into a slipping mode?

Friend, whatever it is, Jesus is greater than that too. He understands the frailty of humanity. He understands the emotions you battle with and the questions you long to ask. Lay it all at His feet today. Take everything to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him, with all sincerity, for help with this and all other things you may be confronted with.

The old may be comfortable, but faith in Christ, the heir of all, is the greater choice.

Therefore, our rest and peace are now forever found in the promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:18-4:3; 2 Corinthians 1:20), because He is greater.

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Shamgar, Who?

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“And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.” Judges 3:31

Reading through the pages of the Bible, some stories leap off the pages while others hardly get a second glance.  There are some stories and lives we know a lot about.  Action and suspense surround their name.  Then, we have those little-known characters.  People who, without a diligent search, may not have been seen at all with a quick read.

But one of the greatest blessings we find in the Bible is the stories of the “unknowns,” or those we read of by name but really have not much more to go on.  These people and the offering of their lives and stories to the pages of Scripture remind us that everyone’s story matters.

Many today have a comparison problem where only the flashiest, biggest, most sensational stories and people grab the attention of the headlines.  And, yet, throughout the world over, daily there are those who go unrecognized by the masses, but they make a huge difference in their circle, in their sphere of friends and family; they make a difference in their world.

Shamgar, noted early in the book of Judges, had this one verse that spoke of his contributions to Israel’s deliverance.  Other than an honorable mention later by Deborah (Judges 5:6), that’s all we really know of him.

But to God, we don’t need a whole chapter or book dedicated to an individual to see that to Him, they matter.  God pays attention to the littlest details of our lives and to Him, every contribution we make for God, His kingdom, and His people – none escapes His notice, and they all matter.

The widow who put in two mites, nobody knows her name, but Jesus honored her actions (Luke 21:1-4).  And with that, there are countless stories of the named and unnamed in the Bible, throughout history, and even in our world today who are only recognized by our heavenly Father.

If you feel like you aren’t celebrated here, no worries.  If you don’t even have one verse dedicated to your earthly achievements (none of us do), it’s okay.  God knows you and you have a reward of faithfulness coming your way (Colossians 3:23-24; Revelation 22:12).

Take heart, and keep pressing forward.  Your worth to God is so much more, and your story, no matter if it is big or small, is important and worthy of note to our heavenly Father.

Other Good Reads:

“What Will Our Story Tell?”

“Your Content Reads More Than Your Cover!”

“Overlooked? Not By God!”

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“The Winds are Shifting. . .”

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The winds are shifting.

The seasons do change.

Nothing stays still.

Nothing remains the same.

 

It’s good to look and ponder

what the shifting breezes bring

as the changing of the times

arrive boldly on the scene.

 

My heart, are you ready

for the season up ahead?

The soul prepared in faith

has nothing at all to dread.

 

On days, some are born.

On others, some see death.

The winds are shifting fast,

live life with no regrets.

 

Choose today to have

Christ in your life.

The winds are shifting

toward eternity,

among those heavenly heights.

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:44

My friend, the winds are shifting and the changing of the seasons in our life comes quickly. Let us be ready, in whatever season the Lord finds us, to go back to heaven with Him when He comes.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:4

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“There’s More Than One Way”

There’s more than one way to be a champion. 

There’s more than one way to use your gift. 

There’s more than one way to make a difference. 

There’s more than one way to create change.

His original design for your life may not look like everyone else’s.  For some to stand with their own earthly measuring rods to compare may have not taken into account the uniqueness that makes you, you.  It may look quirky to some, but to God, it looks like you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14). 

You are not a cookie-cutter fabrication of the rest.  Nor are you a tired remodel of the “best.”  Just the best you is who you are with your offerings to the world.  So go ahead and step out in the way He has planned for you.  Show them what you have to bring to the table matters.  Show them (despite the sometimes judgmental stares) your voice, your calling, and the workmanship He has sown in you with great care. 

There’s more than one way to do a lot of things, but there’s only one way to be – that’s you! Show them you.

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“Be a Promise Accepter!”

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us,” 2 Corinthians 1:20

 It’s back to school time around here. Each school year starts out brand new. New backpacks, new supplies, new clothes; along with new hopes and dreams with the anticipation of promise lingering in the air. This is going to be a wonderful year!

By the end of the first month of school, children and sometimes parents too, start looking forward to days off, delayed openings due to weather and such. The reality of the daily grinding and horse race schedules overshadows the promise that was once felt. Instead of realigning oneself to keep hold of the promise that was once felt in the atmosphere, we begin to gripe and complain. Looking forward to the end of the school year, or at least Christmas break for some relief becomes the new goal.

Often times, we treat the promises of God in the same manner also.

He gives us this wonderful volume (the Bible), filled with sixty-six books. And in each of those sixty-six books therein is packed with “more.” God has “more” for you than this. Line upon line and precept upon precept tells us how much He cares for us, loves us, and wants more for us. The Bible starts way back in the book of Genesis with promise. And, it goes all the way through to the end of Revelation. How does it end? With promise! “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” (Rev. 22:20-21). That’s a promise!

Unfortunately, as it is with the school year so it is in life. In the beginning, when the promise is fresh we are ecstatic. Then, as the everyday issues begin to settle in it starts to wear on the assurance that once was, leaving one to do nothing but constantly focusing on the end. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10). He doesn’t desire for “life” to be something tolerated. Rather, He wants it filled. And with that, there is the anticipation of something better.

Promise!

Promises only work when one accepts it. You can quote it all that you like, but unless it is internalized as a hopeful thing in the life of each of us, it does absolutely no good. Many people can read of the promises but they can’t believe in them for themselves. Only seeing with the eyes but never touching. They never experience the greatness that God wants to do. That’s not God’s intention for you. “For all the promises of God in Him are yea.”  That means “YES!” Now, it may be just me but when I see the words “all,” and “promises,” and “God,” and “yes,” I get excited! If you are in Christ, God says yes to every promise that comes with that salvation. Yes!

Won’t you accept it today? Yes!

I don’t have enough space or time here to even begin to list what He has in store for us. And, the half has not been told. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him,” (1 Cor. 2:9). The promises are there in His Word. All you have to do is believe it and receive it!

Be a promise accepter today. Go through the Bible, find verses that speak to you right now, highlight them, and write them down or whatever you do to remember a verse, then, lay hold of it as your personal treasure. Let them be your source of strength when life doesn’t feel as “abundant.” Accept what He said anyhow. Step out in faith, holding on to those precious promises for dear life.

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“Lay it all down!”

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1

Lay those burdens down!  Give yourself permission to release it, and let it all go.  Grab hold of the confidence of His Word, and cling to it for dear life.

This world is raging.  Things we’ve never seen before are unfolding at a frightening rate.  Hurts are dissimulating families.  Distresses are speaking despair into lives.  Lay it all down!

Refuse to pick it up today!  That fear; that feeling – refuse it space in your world today.

Who does God say I am?  What does His Word speak over my life?  That’s what I choose to pick up today.  That’s what I am choosing to carry with me.  Not these burdens.  Not these worries.  They are hindrances to my progress.  They’re deflating my steps.

I want to run!  I want to run for You, Jesus!  I want to run my race well and effectively.  But, in order to run, I have to release some things that’s been holding me down.  I must cast disappointment aside.  I have to get rid of any sin that’s stopping me from running full speed ahead for the Lord.  I have to throw away everything that’s not working for my heavenly good and trust in God the Father who is.

Lay it all down, dear friend, lay it down.  The heaviness it holds it’s not worth it.  Don’t coddle it.  Don’t get comfortable with it.  Don’t declare this is how it is now.

No, get rid of it.  By faith, be determined.  By faith, walk in the confidence of the God who has spoken beautiful things over your life.  By faith, don’t just claim His peace – live it, because it’s already yours!

The weight is not yours to carry, but His peace is.  Run your race with Him and be blessed.

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“Wherever you go . . .”

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“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

My friend, do you not know that wherever your heart takes you and no matter where your feet travel, your heavenly Father is there in the midst? Throughout this day, you may walk through various scenarios and face many challenging obstacles, but God’s Word states this promise: “For the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”

For Joshua and his people, this meant facing an overflowing Jordan River to stand and march around a seemingly insurmountable wall, allowing them to take their first steps toward their first victory in possessing the Promise Land. Holding on to this promise, they went forward in faith.

At times, we may have overflowing or insurmountable challenges before us. But when we face those things, we do not stand there as a solitary force. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 John 4:4 reminds us. The same God who promised His presence to Joshua is the same God who is present with you today.

Therefore, take heart and know that there is no chasm too wide, nor is there a depth that is too deep that can prohibit God’s presence from being where you are. And just so that you know, the idea of a place, my dear friend, is never just limited to a specified physical location. A place can be any situation where you may find yourself. In that place, in that circumstance, God is there with His people, standing with you wherever you go.

“. . . The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” 2 Chronicles 15:2

“And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 2 Kings 6:16

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

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