The Words of the Wise bring Healing

One of the themes running throughout the book of Proverbs is the importance of the words that we speak. Whilst reading Proverbs chapter 12 last Sunday I came across the following verse:

Some people making cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” (Proverbs 12:18 – NLT)

What a wonderful verse! Just think that the words we speak to others can bring healing. We can be a vessel through which God brings healing to others. This is indeed good news.

However, this verse has two parts to it and I expect many of us have been guilty of the first part of it, making cutting remarks. The part of the verse is even more hard hitting in the NIV:

Reckless words pierce like a sword

Our words are very powerful. They can bring both damage and healing to others. It’s so important to remember this before we open our mouths. In Proverbs 13v3 we are told:

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”

There have been so many times in my life when I have opened my mouth and said something that has ruined situations. Sadly more times than I would care to remember. Once the words leave my mouth I cannot bring them back. It’s not possible to delete or recall them. They have been said and heard by others. One can apologise but unfortunately the damage may already have been done.

However, it does not have to be like that. Instead of using words that can ruin everything we can use words that bring healing to others. What a privilege and honour it is to say something that brings healing to others. Who would not want to be the person who can bring healing to others though our words?

We need to learn to think before we speak. The apostle James tells us:

My dear brothers, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Just think of how much of a blessing we might be to others if we actually did this!

 

Adverts for Christ

I was reading a devotional book a while age which challenged me with the question: what sort of advert am I for Christ? Many of us can ‘talk the talk’ and quote Bible verses off the top of our head on various subjects but how many of us ‘walk the talk’ in our daily life?

When our non-Christian friends and family members look at us what sort of advert do they see for Christ? Do they see someone who genuinely reflects Christ, or do they see someone who is no difference from them?

Are we one thing for an hour on Sunday and a couple of hours at housegroup, but a different thing at home and work? Do we have a reputation at work for being a gossip or as someone who speaks well of others? Do we use holy language at church but coarse language at work?

If we manage people at work do we treat them fairly and speak to them politely, or are we rude to people and treat them like dirt? Do we tread on other people, so we can get to the top or treat everyone respectively?

What about at home? Do we speak to our families in a Christ like manner or are we rude and horrible to them?

If a film was shown of everything we had said, done and thought over the last 24 hours would anyone be able to say yes that is a good advert for Christ or would everyone say no that is a bad advert for Christ?

Of course, none of us are perfect and still have areas in our life where we need to change. However increasingly we should reflect Christ and be a better advert for Him as time goes on. If this is not the case, then something is wrong.

 

31 Days in May

The church that I visited on Easter Day is running a challenge this month called: 31 Days in May. They describe this as a simple but potentially life-changing idea and an initiative for the whole church to engage with the Word of God together.

Everyday throughout the month of May they will read one chapter from the book of Proverbs. Chapter 1 on the 1st, chapter 2 on the 2nd, chapter 3 on the 3rd and so on throughout the month. Church members are then being encouraged to pray over it and into it as they go through the book: for themselves, for their friends and contacts, for the church and for our world.

Although this might sound quite a simple idea it struck me as being a very good initiative and one that could be very beneficial both for individuals and for the church collectively. Therefore I have decided that I will take up the 31 Days in May challenge myself this month.

If you have not got any specific bible readings planned for May why not join in 31 Days in May and immerse yourself in the book of Proverbs this month.

Daily Prayer 2

Daily Prayer 2, written by Nick Fawcett, is a book which provides a resource for anyone seeking a deeper walk with God.

Each day’s devotion follows the same format: read, ponder, ask yourself, pray, remember and close.

The first section, read, consists of the bible reading for the day. Ponder contains some thoughts and reflections from the author on the theme for the day. Then follows ask yourself, which normally has two or three questions for the reader to answer in relation to the theme. Next is the pray section which contains a prayer to help us respond to what we have read so far. Remember is a bible verse and the devotion finishes with close which is the closing prayer.

In addition to providing 365 daily devotions, there is also a supplement section which focuses on certain seasons of the Christian year e.g. Holy Week and Easter, which fall on different dates each year. There is also a devotion written for 29th February too!

I especially like the supplement section of the book, as it means that the reader can use this resource in whatever year they wish and still have relevant seasonal readings too.

One of the most striking features in this book in my opinion is the richness of the pray section. The author has a gift of writing some powerful and meaningful prayers which are very helpful. I find that he seems to be able to “hit the nail on the head” with his prayers.

If you are looking for a devotional book then this is one that I would recommend.

Scandalous

Scandalous is a book written by D.A.Carson that examines five New Testament pieces of scripture to discover what they show us about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The material in the book is taken from five addresses that the author gave at a conference.

The first chapter is entitled “The Ironies of the Cross” and is based on Matthew 27:27-51a. Through this passage we see the irony of what is being played out at the cross. For example: the man who is mocked as King is King. Matthew knows this and in the passage makes it clear to his readers. However, the mockers and the soldiers do not realise this, but the gospel writer knows this, the reader knows this, God knows it and Jesus knows it. He is indeed King of the Jews.

In the second chapter, “The Center of the Whole Bible” the author looks at Romans 3:21-26. He argues that this passage of scripture is not only key to understanding the letter to the Romans but the whole Bible itself. He does this by showing where the passage falls in the book of Romans and what Paul establishes through these verses.

The next chapter is called “The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb” and is based on Revelation 12. The author believes that it’s important for us to consider Satan’s rage against the church so we can understand what is happening in Christianity today. He does this by explaining in this chapter: The Occasion for Satanic Rage, The Reasons for Satanic Rage and How Christians Overcome Satanic Rage as outlined in Revelation 12.

In chapter four, “A Miracle Full of Surprises”, we look at the events of John 11:1-53. These verses in John tell the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. D.A. Carson believes that we sometimes miss the element of surprise which is in this text as we have become superficially familiar with the Bible. He then breaks the chapter into four sections each containing surprising elements that we may have previously overlooked when reading this passage.

The final chapter “Doubting the Resurrection of Jesus” examines John 20:24-31 and looks at the apostle Thomas. The author starts the chapter by listing six causes of doubt. However, his argument here is that John is addressing the specific doubt of Thomas and not the universal answer to doubt. He then goes onto discuss: The Cry of a Disappointed Skeptic, The Adoration of an Astonished Skeptic and The Function of a Converted Skeptic.

Including the indexes at the back of the book, which includes a scripture index, the book is reasonably short at 173 pages. However, it is packed full of teaching on the cross and resurrection of Jesus that is clear, enlightening, encouraging and challenging. It is one of those books that should certainly be read more than once. If you are looking to read a book this Easter which reflects on the important events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday then I would recommend this book to you.

Do not be anxious about anything

The book of Philippians contains some very well known verses, one of which contains the phrase “Do not be anxious about anything” (Phil 4v6). This is an incredible statement to make, especially when you consider that Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter to the church at Philippi.

I expect that there were many things that Paul could have been anxious about in his situation. However instead of being anxious, Paul instructs us “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” No matter what the situation is we are told to present it to God, nothing is too big or too small to present to God. The result of this is that “the peace of God, which transforms all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4v7).

Once we have presented our requests to God what should we be thinking about now we no longer need to entertain anxious thoughts? The answer from Paul is in the next verse (Phil 4v8) “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

What an incredible three verses these are in Philippians 4v6-8. Oh, how we all need to live out these verses! I wonder how much time we waste being anxious? When you think about it we cannot change anything by worrying or being anxious, so we might as well make better use of our time!

Online Prayer Meeting

A few years ago one of the Christian Facebook groups I belonged to held an online prayer meeting and I thought it might be interesting to blog about it.

The prayer meeting was led by the group moderator and instead of speaking our prayers out loud, we typed them out on our laptops / computers into the private Facebook group. This is a different approach for most people, but one of the advantages was that we had to think about what we were saying. It prevented us from rambling on!

If I’m being honest I do struggle with praying. One of my problems is that my mind does tend to wander and my concentration levels are not brilliant. However, I found that during the online praying my mind did not wander and I was able to concentrate. Although this prayer meeting only lasted about 30 minutes, I have found that in shorter prayer times when I’m praying my concentration levels have wandered.

So why could I concentrate better at this meeting? Normally during times of prayer, we bow our heads, close our eyes and then pray. Now obviously I could not do that at this online prayer meeting. Well I could have done, but I would not have known what people were saying in their prayers! I found that by concentrating on the screen, reading the prayers and then thoughtfully typing out my own prayers my concentration levels were much better than normal.

I personally found the prayer meeting very beneficial and felt closer to God during this time. This was interesting because the group contained a mixed bunch of people and a wide range of theological views, not all of which I agreed with. Yet this prayer meeting worked. Afterwards I reflected that I stopped myself judging the content of the prayers of the other people and make sure that I kept a right heart attitude throughout. I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t always do this at prayer meetings!

Some might feel hesitant about the value of online praying but Jesus did say “for when two or three gather together in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20). Nowadays thanks to the wonder of technology those two or three could be literally thousand of miles apart physically but united spiritually through prayer.

Online praying provides us the opportunity to pray with those who we may never meet on this earth. It also means that the house bound person or the parent who cannot go out due to childcare arrangements can also participate in prayer with us. It allows us to pray with our missionary friend when they are away overseas.

Although the prayer meeting I attended was conducted via typing into my laptop, of course you could use tools like Skype and pray out loud as you would normally do in a prayer meeting. There are so many ways that one could use technology to assist them in online prayer meetings. I don’t think that Christians should abandon “real-life” physical prayer meetings and replace them with online ones. But instead these could supplement them.

If you are interested in online praying why not give it a go!