Tag Archive | Trust and obey

The Antidote to Poisonous Words

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:21‬ ‭MSG‬

What were the first words out of your mouth when you woke up this morning? Whether they were spoken aloud to someone or simply words that went through your mind, your words are important. They have the power to give life or destroy, to encourage and strengthen or to demoralize and cause distress.

Last Thursday, we completed the study of Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. As I was praying this week about where to go from here,  one word came to mind. Negativity. Conquering this habit in both our thinking and our speaking is an essential for a lifestyle of gratitude. And why is this so important? Negativity is like adding poison to your mind and thinking you’ll be okay. It will lead to spiritual decay and even death.

We live in a world where negativity is common place. Add the challenges of life with chronic illness, and our lives can easily be the perfect soil for seeds of negativity to take root and start growing. Did you wake up with pain this morning? After a poor night’s sleep? With anxious thoughts about the future? Our initial thoughts and words each day have the power to set a pattern for how our day will go. If we allow circumstances and emotions to determine how we begin our day, it starts us off in a direction that will rob us of thankfulness and vitality.

The epistle of James, believed to be written by a half-brother of Jesus, has much oneto teach us about the importance of taming our tongues – and the total impossibility of doing this in our human strength.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James‬ ‭3:2-6*‬ 

The tongue is like a rudder that determines the direction of our lives. An out-of-control tongue will lead to a life of unrighteousness and constantly falling short of the will of God. Yet in the next two verses James says, “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” So what can we do to turn this area of our lives around?

Jesus said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke‬ ‭6:45‬

So changing the words that come out of our mouths begins with a changed heart. That is a work of the Holy Spirit, but also a process we have a part in.

  1. Begin with prayer. Dedicate your heart, mind and tongue to the Lord daily. Pray specifically for a changed heart that reflects the heart of God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalms‬ ‭51:10, 12‬ ‭‭
  2. Make a commitment to be a doer of the Word. Agree that you will “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭ The Greek translated corrupt or corrupting (depending on what translation you’re using) means “to produce rot or decay.” If the words in your mind will have this effect in your life, make a commitment to not give them utterance.
  3. Rely on God’s strength to follow through on this commitment. Remember, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭‬‬ Stand on God’s promise in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
  4. Begin each new day by dedicating your heart and tongue to the Lord. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
  5. ‭‭Put your heart in tune with God’s Spirit by reading your Bible daily. When God speaks to you through a particular verse, slow down and pay attention. Memorize and meditate on the verse. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  6. ‭‭Accept responsibility for every word you speak. Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew‬ ‭12:36-37‬
  7. Give thanks to the Lord for the good work He is doing in you in this area. Remember, we are still in process, but God will finish what He has started in our lives . “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭‬‬

‭‭Let’s keep moving forward in this journey to a consistent attitude of gratitude. Don’t allow yourself to be derailed by poisonous words that lead to spiritual rot and decay. Ask God to do the needed work in you to tame your tongue, to rid it of words that are negative and don’t line up with His ways and His Word. God wants to change our hearts in this area. Let Him do the needed work to make us willing and able to bring this area of our lives under His Lordship.

*All verses in ESV unless otherwise noted

img_8158

Lessons from Job: Trust and Obey!

Did you ever wake up to tornado warnings on the radio? I did one morning this week, but honestly I wasn’t concerned. Tornados have never hit our neighborhood, so I felt safe. Others in Van Vleck, Texas, a coastal area southwest of my hometown of Houston, may have responded similarly to the warnings. But that same day some residents in that town saw the serous effect a tornado can have. Several homes were destroyed and badly damaged, and one woman made the news by lying on top of her young children to protect them from almost certain death as the tornado ripped through their home. As a result, there were injuries but no deaths from this powerful tornado.

Job also knew what it was to have his life changed by “a powerful wind.”  Job 1:19 (NLT) tells us what happened, “Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house (of Job’s oldest son, while all his sons and daughters were together there feasting) on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” And this wasn’t the first calamity Job had faced. His property had already been attacked by Sebean and Chaldean raiders who stole all his animals and killed his farmhands and servants and had suffered the loss of his sheep and shepherds from a raging fire. And this was just the first set of tests that God permitted Job to go through.

As I shared in the introduction to this series on Lessons from Job, there are two foundational truths we need to hold onto as we move forward in this study of the book of Job:

  1. Job was a righteous man; God was not punishing him for some horrible sin he had committed.
  2. God is sovereign. He is the one in control. Though Satan was behind these horrible trials that Job faced, he was only able to do what God gave him permission to do.

This leads to a big question: Why did God give Satan permission to inflict such suffering upon a man who loved Him and lived a righteous life? The book of Job doesn’t answer this question. But it does show us Job’s initial response to this round of calamities. Job grieved over his losses, but in the midst of them he worshiped God.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t always Job’s response as we move forward in the book of Job. He was an imperfect human being, just as we are, and when the Lord later permitted Satan to afflict Job’s body he did sin by blaming God. God was in control, He had allowed these tests, and Job didn’t understand.

One of our first questions where suffering comes is WHY?  Many years of walking with chronic illness and other major trials have taught me that this is a question God often doesn’t directly answer

  • When God allowed an automobile accident to leave me with life-changing injuries and took the life of our precious first-born daughter, I asked why. 
  • Nine years later, when our three-month old son was diagnosed with massive infantile spasms, a seizure disorder that essentially stopped his mental development, again I asked why. 

God has never given me an answer to my whys. Instead, I’ve heard, “Trust me. I’m in control. I love you. I will work in this for your good.” Frankly, these weren’t what I was hoping to hear. 

As a young Christian, I didn’t understand. I tried to trust in God’s love, crying out to Him for help, but in the weakness of my flesh I sometimes failed. I went through a season of being angry at God. When He chose to stop the spasms David was having during a time of prayer for him by the elders of our church, I rejoiced. But over the next few months it became clear that the damage already been done was not healed.The miraculous end to the infantile spasms reinforced my belief that God could heal, but the future for our son looked dim. My whys never received an answer, and if you live with chronic illness you may be in the same place. 

One Scripture God has spoken to my heart over and over is the one below:


Have you ever had a small child repeatedly ask why?   If so, you’ve probably learned that trying to answer his questions doesn’t help because he really isn’t able to understand the reasons. Similarly, God’s ways are beyond our limited understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” 

Trusting in the character of God when we can’t understand the path He has asked us to walk down is a big part of what it is to TRUST HIM! He is loving and faithful, a God of mercy and grace. Make the decision to believe what He says about Himself. Then choose to live with the goal of pleasing Him during your days on earth.  He asks that we TRUST AND OBEY, even when our minds cannot understand His purposes in what we are walking through. Job struggled to do this, and we do too. But it is the next important lesson we are to learn through suffering. 

Today, I still do not understand the circumstances God has allowed to touch my life. But I have made the decision to trust Him and not insist upon leaning on my own understanding. This doesn’t mean the desire to understand has gone away. It hasn’t. I still ask God for healing, both for our son and for myself. But learning to live victoriously with chronic illness requires learning to trust that God has a good purpose in what we are going through. 

We may not fully understand that purpose during our years on this fallen earth. The answers to our whys may not be given until we see God face-to-face. But my prayer for you is that you will choose to trust God. Trusting God is simply believing what He has revealed about Himself in the holy Scriptures, His Word to us. Out of that trust will come a desire to do those things that please Him. Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you. And in His closeness, you’ll find the strength to keep moving forward, one day, one hour, sometimes one step at a time. Even when healing does not come.