Words, words, words

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S (Scripture): Psalm 64

1

Listen to me when I complain, God!

    Protect my life from the enemy’s terror!

Hide me from the secret plots of wicked people;

    hide me from the schemes of evildoers

        who sharpen their tongues like swords.

They aim their arrow—a cruel word—

    from their hiding places

    so as to shoot an innocent person.

    They shoot without warning and without fear.

They encourage themselves with evil words.

    They plan on laying traps in secret.

O (Observation): The psalmist prays for God’s protection, giving great detail as to how the enemy is preparing for an attack: their tongues will be like swords, cruel words will be their weapons!

The psalmist trusts in God to tangle up the enemy, to ruin the plans of the enemy.

Maybe that is comfort enough.

A (Application): Sticks and stones, right? Our parents always said this…and yet what wars are we in? Word wars!

News cycles consistently quote our nation’s leaders, and on social media we tear one another apart over the words we use to explain ourselves and our positions.

Yet, in the end, the most important issue is relationships. Relationships with friends and those with whom we disagree is the birthplace of peace.

We pray that God would guide our words so that we might establish a constructive path forward towards peace, towards truth-telling, towards forgiveness and reconciliation.

P (Prayer): Lord, guise my words this day into the way of peace. Amen.

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S (Scripture): Acts 2:1 Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.

…[they said,] 11 “We hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!”
O (Observation):  To get the word out to everyone, without the likes of Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat, proved difficult 2,000 years ago.  And yet, through the miracle of the Holy Spirit, we see that God has a way of communicating beyond our own capabilities.  

The Holy Spirit inspired the disciples to share the stories of the mighty acts of God in order to help others believe.   All of those gathered heard the stories in their own language, even without the use of Google Translate : )

(I probably should have made a sponsorship deal out this post : ) 

A (Application):  God finds a way.  Always.   

Jesus was no longer on earth, but the Spirit was a different story.   The Spirit moved in tremendous ways that day, inspiring many with the story of salvation history.  

I wonder who God is speaking to today, through you?   Through your actions?   Someone is looking for God today.   I wonder if you will cross paths this day?  

P (Prayer): Lord, equip us for your ministry his day.  Amen.  

Christ IN us

  

S (Scripture): Mark 2:18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. So they came to Jesus and said, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they do not fast. 20 But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and at that time they will fast. 21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins will be destroyed. Instead new wine is poured into new wineskins.”

O (Observation): A new day has dawned for God’s people!  The Savior walks on the earth, in flesh and blood – simultaneously natural and supernatural.   

Now God’s people – and anyone living in Israel at the time – experience God in the person of Jesus.  

The point is made pretty clear, this is a new thing that requires different practices.  The disciples will spend there time in fellowship with Jesus, as opposed to strictly following the old practices that brought you closer to God.  They couldn’t get much closer to God than following Jesus in the flesh!

A (Application): I recently heard about a book called “4 Small Words” by Jarrett Stevens.   The words the title refers to are: 

OF, BETWEEN, WITH, and IN.  

The relationship between humanity and God goes like this:  we are created in the image OF God; after the Fall, we needed someone to facilitate the relationship BETWEEN us and God; in Jesus, God is WITH us; post-Ascension, God now lives IN us.

I’m haven’t read the book, but I like the movement, and it makes sense to me.   This is the overarching sweep of the story of God and humanity, according to the Bible. 

In the text I’m looking at this morning, the disciples are clearly distinguishing between God and humanity needing someone to come BETWEEN them into realizing that God is WITH them in the person of Jesus.  

Can’t go about the old ways when something new is right there!  Jesus is WITH them now.  

For us today, we see Christ living IN us.  We are in a dance with the Trinity; we are caught up in God living IN us, and us living in God.   We are the body of Christ.   Jesus came to reveal that to us and to help us live into that understanding.

He was a leader for the disciples.  Now, Jesus calls us to lead others into this understanding that God lives in us.  He showed the disciples…now we show each other.  

How is that going for you?   I try to share with others via this blog and in my daily ministry.  Where is it working for you to share God’s closeness?   Where is it not working?

P (Prayer):  Lord, our failures and frailties fracture our faith.   Give us strength to know you are near – indeed, IN us!  Amen. 

The Heart Informs the Tongue

  S (Scripture): Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love its use will eat its fruit.

O (Observation): The tongue has in its power the ability to give life or to take it away.   This goes beyond the power of a judge who can hand down a sentence, but affects everyone in their everyday lives. 

The author has learned that those who love to talk will wat the fruit that is produced by one’s mouth: to life or death.  So the tongue (speech) itself is neither inherently good or bad, but we make it so by the words that come from our mouths.   Perhaps the heart is the seed from which the good or bad comes forth.  

A (Application):  As a pastor, this is a little scary : ) I talk a lot, and the world  can sway my heart…which would thus affect the words that roll of my tongue.  

So what’s the answer to this?

God’s grace, in the form of marks of discipleship: prayer, worship regularly, reading Scripture daily, serving, healthy relationships, and a strong ethic of giving.    Mike Foss made these marks popular in his book, Power Surge.  

Feel like these are too challenging for you?  Find someone to be a mentor for you.  Heck, I’ll do it, if you’re up for being reminded constantly by me that these are God’s graces made available to all.  

I’ll send those 7am text messages to ask you what the Scriptures are saying to you today.  I’ll call and see how your giving of time and money is going.   But only if you feel called to go in that direction.   These actions change your heart, and thus what might come forth from your tongue.  

That kind of exhortation may feel like death, but I believe these kinds of encouragements ultimately bring life to those who are called by God to take next steps in their faith.  I know that’s been the case for me.  The words from my mentor have felt life-draining, because of the challenge.  However, his words have shown me God’s grace.  And he and I both believe that the fruit produced by his tongue has been good fruit, indeed.   (Thanks, Ernie!)

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to be wise and grace-filled in terms of the fruit coming from our tongues.  Amen.