10 Out of the same mouth we pour out words of praise one minute and curses the next. My brothers and sisters, this should never be! – James 3:10 TPT James 3:7-12 TPT
We must always be careful with our words. Somehow, we have gotten into the bad habit of thinking that every word said to us needs a quick reply. It is those knee-jerk responses that get us into trouble most times. We need to take the time to consider what we have just heard and weigh its meaning. What is the situation? What is the tone of voice? Did we hear correctly? In our “busy” lifestyle nowadays, we have to have a lot more patience and consider the other person’s perspective. Our words should always be uplifting and encouraging. Our lips should bless and not curse. The words we say should always be a “sweet, sweet sound” in the ears of God, then we know they will be pleasing to others. God listens and hears every word we say. Let our words be sweet cool water to a tortured soul. Then people will know what we have in our hearts.
For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.–Matt 12:34b (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Before we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, our thoughts were fixed on the things of this world. Our focus was on ourselves and our fleshly desires. What things can I do or indulge in that will make my life here more pleasurable? What will I do tomorrow and the next day? We gave little or no thought to the afterlife or where our souls would spend eternity. After we accepted Jesus, our focus started (or should have started) to change. We started to realize that there is more to life than possessions. We slowly began to understand that we are not the center of the universe. We felt our desires changing. The invisible became more important than the visible. Did we change ourselves? Of course not, if we could change ourselves, then Christ died in vain. God has placed Himself as the Holy Spirit inside of us and it is He that is making those changes in and for us. We are being transformed not by our own power but by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. Each of us should pray that we will have a teachable spirit and allow that process to continue until we are transformed into His image.
24 ‘O Sovereign Lord, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do?25 Please let me cross the Jordan to see the wonderful land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon mountains.’ 26 “But the Lord was angry with me because of you, and he would not listen to me. ‘That’s enough!’ he declared. ‘Speak of it no more. — Deut. 3:24-26 NLT
From a human viewpoint, if anyone deserved to enter the Promised Land, it was Moses. When God told Moses to speak to the rock to cause water to flow out, Moses in his anger, struck the rock. Compared to all of the foolishness of the tribes of Israel, this seems like a small thing to us. But God views things and events from a totally different perspective. Whatever His reasons were, God’s answer to Moses’s prayer was “No”. God gave Paul the same answer when Paul asked God to remove “the thorn in his flesh”. We are not sure what the “thorn” was nor exactly why God said “No”, but Paul was assured that he needed the “thorn” to keep him humble. In both cases, God heard the prayer and answered. Not the answer the men wanted to hear, but He answered. The prayers that we humans refer to as “unanswered” are the ones when God gives us an answer we don’t want to hear or when we don’t agree with His answer. Neither Moses nor Paul rebelled against God because of His answer. They accepted the answer as God’s will and continued to be God’s servants. God did not “owe” Moses and Paul anything for their obedience. He owes us nothing and will never be indebted to us. We, on the other hand, owe Him everything and will always be indebted to Him. He blesses us simply because He loves us and it gives Him great joy to bless His children. The good works that we do are to show God’s love to others and to show our obedience to God.
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. — Luke 6:35, 36 NLT
5 This is the message we heard from Christ and are reporting to you: God is light, and there isn’t any darkness in him. 6 If we say, “We have a relationship with God” and yet live in the dark, we’re lying. We aren’t being truthful. 7 But if we live in the light in the same way that God is in the light, we have a relationship with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from every sin. 8 If we say, “We aren’t sinful” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong. 10 If we say, “We have never sinned,” we turn God into a liar and his Word is not in us.–1 John 1:5-10 (GW)
At first, this might seem like a strange comparison from a Christian perspective. Bear with me and let’s see if we can make it fit our discussion. If we think of Jesus looking over the earth to find sinners and compare that to us walking through a pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin to carve for our fall festival, we can go from there. We find the pumpkin we want, we pick it up out of the dirty field, clean it up, carve away the parts we don’t want and fill it with light. Jesus does the same thing to us, He finds us in our sinful condition, reaches down and lifts us up and washes us with His blood. Then He starts the process of carving away the thoughts and attitudes of which He doesn’t approve. Little by little His Light starts to shine through us and the world around us gets a glimpse of Jesus. Just like the original Irish carving of a turnip (there weren’t any pumpkins in Ireland), the light was put inside to chase away evil spirits. So do we, as we allow God’s light to shine through us and all around us. We were once dirty and walked in darkness, but now that we have Jesus inside us, we are the vessels that carry His Light into the world. Keep the vessel clean, inside and outside, so the Light can shine through and dispel the darkness.
****Not an original idea, I just don’t know who to give credit for the comparison.
15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”–1 Peter 1:15,16 (NLT)
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.–John 1:14-16 (NASB)
Continuing yesterday’s thoughts on living a holy life: In some of us who have always tried to live by what the world considered “good” rules, there may not be a noticeable change in our personalities and our activities. After all, God did design us with those particular personality traits and talents. But, then, there are those of us who have misused and abused those traits and talents that will have to make major adjustments. That will be necessary to bring our lives in alignment with what God wants us to be here on earth. But whether there is a minor or a major change in our personalities and activities, the areas that all of us will have to make adjustments are our attitudes and our perspectives. Now we must start to look at others through the eyes of Jesus. We must love the unlovable, pray for those who mistreat us, be merciful (full of mercy) and graceful (full of grace) and truthful (full of truth). That is a process that will continue as long as we breathe. We must strive to reflect the character of Jesus in all that we do and say. Salvation was the easy part, now the remodeling begins in earnest.