Tuesday, July 10, 2018

OUR WORDS HAVE POWER


The words we speak have the power to lift up or to tear down. Which shall your words be today?

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Our words

Ever since I learned how to read the Dick and Jane books as a child, words have captivated me. I determined to learn their correct spelling and usage, and how to string them into sentences that made sense. In so doing, I became an editor of sorts. Early on, however, I learned that it’s okay to correct youngsters for their incorrect spelling and grammar, but not for all adults. That’s why today I try to be a closet editor—correcting others’ errors in my mind only.

Because of my internal editing, I cringe at every error I see on Facebook. It’s not the spelling errors but the content of Facebook posts that disturb me the most. I read words that are vulgar, negative and hurtful, sometimes by nice, good, church-going folks. And because God is who He says He is, I’m sure He also is saddened by their written content.

God, in fact, has much to say about our spoken—and written—words. Jesus once took to task some Pharisees for following their strict traditions but disobeying the pivotal commandment of loving God above all else and their neighbor as themselves. He said, “Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matthew 15:10)

Jesus also taught that we are known by the fruit we bear. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” He said. “For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-36) Our words contain the power to either tear down or lift up.

Scary words, to be sure. Scary enough that we should all heed them by searching our hearts and our habits. Our thoughts usually determine the words we speak or write. If our thoughts center on positive, encouraging and life-giving ways to communicate with others, not only will they be blessed, but we will too. And our hearts will rejoice.

One of the best ways to keep our thoughts and words, whether spoken or written, on the right track—God’s track—is to learn from His Word. Jesus is all about the good, the positive, and the life-giving way. In fact, Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is … sharper than any two-edged sword …”

Lord, thank You for Your powerful words of life. Fill our hearts, minds and lips with only the words that bring joy, peace, love and life to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

HEARING GOD OVER THE NOISY STORMS OF LIFE


The recent storms we’ve encountered may have been noisy, but God can quiet the storms of our lives through our abiding faith in His promises and power.

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Noisy storms

In light of the severe storms we’ve experienced recently, I was reminded of a column I wrote several years ago, one I included in my book, The Nature of God: Daily Devotionals Celebrating Summer. I include it here, hoping you too are reminded to remain faithful to God’s promises in the midst of the severest of life’s storms.

Nature can be noisy. During a heavy rainstorm, we must shout to be heard. In the 1800s when grasshoppers invaded the prairies, the noise of their wings and chirring made it impossible for homesteaders to hear anything else. Tornadoes are as noisy as freight trains.

But some outwardly quiet things such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, disease, or other losses, can be just as noisy to our internal ear as a loud storm.

The Old Testament prophet Job faced a life-changing storm when God allowed Satan to take everything away from him. Although he never cursed God, his inner voice screamed doubt and anguish. “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him,” Job said. “I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him … But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10 in part)

Although unsure, Job still clung to his weakened faith. If we had faced the same situation, would we have clung to our faith? Or would we have asked God, “How can You do this to me, Lord? I’m a good person. Aren’t You a God of love? Where are You, Lord? I can’t hear You. Where’s the justice?”

Like Job, sometimes we struggle with doubt during trials. Our questions and complaints may become such an internal roar we can’t hear God’s voice. We can unstop our ears from the noisy din of suffering and anguish by choosing in faith, however, weak, to submit to God’s sovereignty. His plans are good, though during life’s storms we can’t always see them completed. We can only trust.

Lord, keep our internal ears free from the noise of our complaints, doubts, and anguish that come from life’s storms. We want and need to hear Your clear voice through Your Word and Spirit. in Jesus’ name, amen.