In the United States, we are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving Day on November 22. We wanted this week’s blog post to speak of something we can be thankful for. At the same time we have a copy of a sermon written and preached a few weeks ago by our friend Joy Haines, a member of Magnolia Road United Methodist Church, Pemberton, New Jersey. While her sermon wasn’t intended for the Thanksgiving holiday, it seemed to us that it did speak of something to be thankful for. Specifically, we are thankful that, despite what often seems to be a hopeless world, God is always fulfilling faith-based hopes. This includes the hope that God will make it possible for us to become the Christ-like people He created us to be. People who are being transformed in such a way that they can not only act like Jesus, but speak like Him.
Grace and peace,
Patty and Ray
Remember the phrase “sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me”’? I am sure I even taught my own children that little jingle to teach them not to hurt others. But lets look at the impact of what words can do. The physical damage from a stone, a bruise or scratch, will disappear. But what about the impact of a hurtful, negative word? Those words are often heard over and over again in our minds and our hearts, perhaps for a lifetime. You may even now be thinking of hurtful words spoken to you at a time in your life, and they still bring a sting of pain. Unkind words can destroy us. However, kind words are energizing and uplifting! Words spoken when hurtful in any way can break a heart, or even break a spirit. Our tongue and the power behind it is mentioned repeatedly in The Bible, as God reminds us to speak in a soft and kind way. This is what God wants from us because it is what is best for us. In other words, it is to our benefit.
The words of our mouths to a great extent control our lives and determine our futures, whether we like it or not, or whether we believe it or not. In the Letter of James (3:4-5), he explains that just as a rudder controls the direction of a ship, your tongue controls the direction of your life. God made people to be stewards, not only of the earth, but of our mouths as well. With our words we are prophesying our own lives, either positively or negatively.
What we say today impacts our tomorrows. Our words determine the way we think. Our thinking determines the way we feel. The way we feel determines decisions we make. Our decisions determine our actions. Our actions determine our habits. Our habits determine our character. And our character determines our destiny. We need to pay attention to every word and phrase that comes out of our mouths because each word will affect our futures.
If this is so, why is it so difficult to keep our tongue in check and obey what God says in regards to using our words for good and not evil? What are some possible reasons we speak with complaining, negative, and unkind words when The Bible is so clear that it is to our benefit to instead speak with thankful, positive, kind words. I believe there are usually two main reasons. One is that it becomes a habit. The other is that we feel powerless and even if we don’t realize it, we speak negatively as a way of lifting ourselves up by bringing others down.
So what should we do about this? First, we need to recognize that our God is a forgiving God, who created us with the ability to use our mouths for good and not evil. Assuming that this is what we want to do, we need to be increasingly aware that we are being constantly bombarded by all kinds of thoughts from all kinds of sources, both good and bad. We need to become very selective in separating the good from the bad. This means that when you start to even have a thought in your mind, you must train yourself to stop the thought. You are to speak positively about yourself and decide not to speak negatively over yourself, your children, your neighbors, your church, your community, or anyone around you again. Train your mind to be more like Jesus. This will be something we need to do many times a day, everyday for the rest of our lives.
Our minds are like a computer. They know nothing except what they have been fed. And, just like a computer, our minds can be affected by bad data or viruses. Fortunately, we human beings have access to to top-notch anti virus software – the Word of God as found in The Bible. As we intentionally read and study The Bible for this purpose. our minds will become transformed and renewed “that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
The problem is that even when we diligently pursue this process and are open to the transformation and renewal of our minds, this all takes time. What happens when, despite our good intentions concerning our words, we still find ourselves saying the wrong things? Is there any hope for us? Yes, with God there is always hope. Words of hope will always ultimately overcome words that hurt. Just like when we were little and would spill our milk, or our face would be dirty, someone who cared for us would take a cloth and gently wash us clean. It doesn’t matter how many times we make a mistake or what we have done. We are already forgiven…for it all through the grace of Jesus. We have a heavenly Father who is filled with mercy and grace. We fall, and his arms open wide to pick us up and hold you while you learn to walk again, and again, and again, and again…………..
Sure, it is sometimes difficult to say the right things when you feel totally wrong. When you are extremely emotional, for better or worse, it’s easy to say just what you are feeling. But it is important to allow wisdom to rise above emotions. Gossiping, or losing your temper and venting your frustrations through angry words, can lead to bitter grief and torment and can even ruin relationships. We would be wise to use self-control and discipline our mouths to follow what God tells us to do. If we ask God for help, He will remind us how we should talk by prompting us to use our minds, and our mouths for His purposes.
In all of this, there is always hope in Christ. It doesn’t matter what we have done or where we have been or even what we have said. We have been given the tools to move on, forgiven, fresh and new. Each one of us is a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus, and forgiven by His precious blood as long as we have accepted Christ as our personal savior. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Phil.3:13). Today starts a new beginning of reaching for the destiny that God has created us for. To renew our minds every day by reading and studying the word of God. To remain in the glory and power of Jesus, knowing that no matter what the day brings, God gives us a future and hope. Through Him, and by Him we can be all that He wants us to be as long as we remain in His word, doing His will for our lives.
From this moment on, remember Gods word as found in Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray