Christian Devotions

The Power of Words

A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.    Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. ~~ Proverbs 18:20, 21    (KJV)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We all remember that old sing-song from childhood. But it is a lie. We have all been hurt by words at one time or another. And we have all probably said hurtful words to others as well.  Words have power. Look at the beginning of The Book. In Genesis we read “And God said….  ”    He created everything, beginning with light by speaking it forth.

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. ~~Job 1:5   (KJV)

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. ~~  Job 3:25   (KJV)

See the words of Job. He sacrificed for the well-being of his children. Then he confesses that he was afraid of losing them (and everything else). He didn’t know that the enemy was listening and taking all these things from him because God was allowing Satan to test Job’s faithfulness to God.

Then scripture tells us of Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   The same was in the beginning with God.   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John 1:1-3    (KJV)

And we are enjoined by Paul’s letter to the Ephesians….

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  ~~  Ephesians 4:29   (KJV)

Words can teach and words minister grace.

What do our words do? Do they teach or minister grace? Do they express fear rather than faith? Let us watch our words today to see that they reflect only the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to set a seal on our lips. Fill our hearts with Your words. Grant that our words may reflect only Your words and Your heart in this world. Use our mouths to edify and minister to Your world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  ~~   Exodus 40:34-35   (KJV)

“The Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”

Here we’re into details. Seven times we see the Israelites did “as the Lord commanded Moses.” They followed their instructions in every specification.

When it was all completed, then the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

How do we apply this to our lives today? Well, there’s obedience. No, it’s not a dirty word. Obedience to the Lord is more to be desired than sacrifice.

It was  not the sacrifices themselves that brought the Lord into the temple. It was the obedience of the people.

God has promised to dwell with us, within in us, if we let Him. But any scrap of disobedience makes our hearts unfit to tabernacle the Lord. Try as we might, we are inadequate to be completely obedient to the Lord.

That’s where the blood of Christ atones for us. He takes on our sin and covers us with His righteousness. What a glorious exchange – our filth for His purity!

Only with a heart bent toward obedience and a reliance on the blood of Christ can we hope to experience the Glory of the Lord in the tabernacle of our hearts.

Father, God,

Help us to hear and be swift to obey. Grant us the grace to acknowledge our shortcomings and the faith to believe that Christ atoned for them all.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Purpose

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  ~~ 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15  (KJV)

In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, he warned them against idleness. What he referred to was the idleness of not earning your way in the world. Not doing the work of the Lord with the purpose He had in mind for your life.

He points to himself as the example of working while teaching. This was not because his teaching was not worthy of payment, but because he wanted to show them the industriousness that needs to accompany the teacher. It is not enough to sit idly by and just think in an ivory tower. One needs to have the experience of the work at hand to base one’s theories upon.

I don’t believe it is any accident that this warning immediately follows Paul’s dissertation on the second coming of Christ. Early church fathers knew and accepted the principle that our time is short (in light of eternity) and that we must be busy about the Lord’s work.

The book of Proverbs was well known in Paul’s time. I memorized Proverbs 29:18 in the KJV when I was a child.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Sometimes it is a struggle to see the vision God has for your life. When the world seems to cave in upon you, when everything you thought you had is ripped away, when tragedy and destruction mark your path, you have great difficulty seeing a vision of your purpose in God’s world.Those minutes and hours, once spent, are irredeemable.

Our purpose is to serve the Lord and His church. For that we need all the time eternity can offer.

Father, God,

Teach us to number our days so that we may give a good account of them when Your Son returns. Grant that we may be useful in Your kingdom. Help us to see the vision You have for our lives.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.

And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.

And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.  ~~  Joshua 6:1-5 (KJV)

We’ve all heard the song “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho…”

But today’s reading says otherwise. The battle was not Joshua’s, but the Lord’s. God gave specific instructions which had to be obeyed. Had Joshua not obeyed the Lord, the walls would not have collapsed.

So exactly what did they do? Well the army marched around the city once a day for seven days — without saying a word. The Ark of the Covenant went before them. And seven priests with trumpets (or shofar) led the Ark.

We have, in effect, the heralding trumpets (seven, the perfect number) leading the presence of the Lord as symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant, followed by the silent army. Imagine the wonder of the besieged citizens of Jericho.

This is not the kind of battle Jericho had prepared for. And this strange parade happens every day for six days. Then on the seventh, the parade circles the city seven times. The shofar sound a long, loud blast, and the army gives a great shout. The walls of the city tremble and collapse.

The army of Israel is, at that moment, the army of God. The city is theirs. But the battle was not Joshua’s, nor even the army’s. The battle was God’s and was won before it began through the obedience of Joshua and the children of Israel.

We need to remember that the battle belongs to God. Our part in this war is to heed the counsel of the Lord and obey.

So what battle are you facing today? What has the Lord told you about it? Have you sought His direction? The Lord’s victory becomes ours through obedience.

Father, God,

Help us to listen to Your voice and heed Your words about our lives. Stiffen our wills to be obedient to Your prompting. Help us to keep silent when You would have us to keep silent, and to shout when You would have us shout.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~  2 Corinthians: 1:3-4 (KJV)

“Who comforts us in all our troubles…”  This particular passage seems to expect that we will all have troubles in our lives. It states troubles as a foregone conclusion, not just a remote possibility.

So often we ask why. Why did this happen? What use are we to make of it? This verse tells us exactly why. We go through troubles in order to comfort others who are going through troubles.

Our God is a God of compassion – not pity – compassion. The root of compassion is patio, meaning to bear or suffer and the prefix com meaning together or with.

The current definition is:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Yesterday, I visited the local funeral home to grieve with and offer comfort to a family who had lost an infant.

We do not understand why we lose infants and children. It matters not whether the immediate cause was disease, accident or murder. The loss of a child is the loss of a future, the loss of a hope.

There will forever be a blank, open, hurting space in our hearts. We do not “get over” this kind of loss. We simply learn to live in an altered universe.

The one constant in our universe is God. No matter the trouble, the hurt, the grief, He is always ready to hold us near to His heart. When bad things happen, we can always turn to Him. He is always there, loving us, bearing with us through everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that nothing happens to us without Your foreknowledge, that You are never surprised by circumstance. Remind us that You are our refuge and our strength at all times, no matter what happens to us and around us. Grant us the wisdom to turn to You, not trying to fix things by ourselves. Help us to understand Your love so that we can extend that same kind of love to others.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Searching for Peace?

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

Thou anointest my head with oil;

My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
~~  Psalm 23  (KJV)

David’s psalms are beautiful, but this is probably the most familiar. It teaches you a lot of theology by describing God as a shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Notice that He is MY shepherd. He is personal to me. This is a one on one relationship.

“I shall not want.” He is able and willing to fulfill my every need.

Green pastures are areas of abundance and peace. Still waters allow the sheep to drink without the possibility of drowning. Restoration of the soul gives one the ability to rejoice anew.

Heeding and obeying His commandments will keep us from doing evil. No matter where we are, His constant presence reassures us that He is sovereign. When all the world seems to be against us, He provides whatever we need. He adopts us as His children, children of the King.

His presence in our lives is our abundance and provision. Now and always. We are His forever. That is the essence of our peace – not who we are, but whose we are.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace, our total provision at all times and in all circumstances. Grant that we, like sheep, may hear and follow only the Shepherd’s voice.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?  ~~  Malachi 2:16-17   (KJV)

The second chapter of the book of Malachi is a snapshot of our world today. It talks about three important things: the teaching of the priests, the sanctity of marriage, and fidelity to God’s standards.

Let us start with the priests – or the religious teachers. In Malachi’s prophecy, God chastises them for profaning the altar, from turning from God’s teachings, and causing many to stumble. Unfortunately, we have many religious leaders who do the same today. We have the hate mongers practicing their own brand of hate-filled religion in the name of the Lord. We have teachers who teach God’s love – but not His righteousness, power, or judgment. We have others who use the Lord’s house and attendance there to further their political or business ambitions.

We are profaning the altar of the Lord and leading others astray.

Then there is the state of marriage and the family.

Sometimes tragic situations come from marriages when the two parties do not worship the same God. God is not Allah, nor Buddah, nor any of the other names people give their deities. Intermarriage in this passage is talking about marriage between two people who believe in different gods. And it talks about breaking faith with the wife of your youth. You see, God instituted marriage. When a person breaks faith with the marriage, he is also breaking faith with God.

I think, however, that this last verse in the chapter may be the most pertinent. We weary the Lord when we call evil good, and good evil. But we have done just that. Beginning with the Humanist Manifesto, we have tried to displace God in our world and our lives. Our some of our educators are trained with those values, and many of our schoolrooms are filled with those ideas. We have tried to make man the measure of all things. It is false and wrong. And just like the original sin in the Garden of Eden, it springs from an arrogance of the intellect.

Lord, deliver us from such arrogance!

Father, God,

You chastise us with these words. Help us to look carefully at our lives and motives and judge them by these standards. Give us the wisdom and grace to correct our failings insofar as is within our capabilities, and to rely upon You to make up for our shortcomings.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.