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!
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.
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!
In Psalm 19v7 there is a wonderful statement by David:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”
I’m not sure about you but so often my soul needs reviving. At the end of a stressful day at work or an exhausting and busy week I certainly need to be revived. Yet to be honest I don’t always turn to God’s word for revival. There are occasions when instead of doing this I turn to earthly things e.g. leisure activities, food, sport, TV, social media etc. Whilst none of those are necessary wrong in themselves, they will not bring revival to the soul.
This is because those things are not God’s word. They may be enjoyable past times and activities, but they do not revive us. Instead of turning to them we should turn to God’s word. We regularly need to read the scriptures, study them and meditate on them. It’s important that we set aside time each day to do this.
If we neglect these disciplines, then we miss opportunities to experience a revived soul. Some people also find it helpful to have a bible verse in their mind for them to ponder as they prepare to go to sleep each night. It’s a good way to finish the day.
If you ever read anything about the persecuted Church, you will see their love for the bible. In many of these countries a person can get into severe trouble for owning a bible. When they receive a bible, they are so grateful and full of excitement. Conversely, many of us in the west have numerous different translations of the bible at home, not to mention the ones on our phones! Yet we often rarely read them.
Let us not neglect the scriptures but instead know the reality of this wonderful phrase in Psalm 19v7:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”
Continue reading “Reviving the Soul”
Our church is currently doing a course called “Christianity Explored” which is based on the gospel of Mark. During this course we have discovered that Mark is really asking a question in the first half of his gospel: Who is Jesus?
Jesus himself asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?” and Peter responded to this question by saying “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29).
One of the things that has struck me as we have read through Mark is the number of miraculous signs and healings that Jesus did. The following are all recorded in Mark’s gospel before Jesus asked his disciples the “Who do you say I am?” question:
- Driving out an impure spirit (Mark 1: 21-28)
- Healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31)
- Healings and driving out of demons (Mark 1:32-33)
- Healing a man with leprosy (Mark 1:40 – 45)
- Forgiving and healing a paralysed man (Mark 2:1-12)
- Healing a man with a shrivelled hand (Mark 3:1-6)
- Healings and driving out of demons (Mark 3:10-11)
- Calming of the storm (Mark 4:35-41)
- Healing and restoring a demon possessed man (Mark 5:1-18)
- Raising a dead girl and healing a sick woman (Mark 5:21-43)
- Healings (Mark 6:5)
- Feeding the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44)
- Walking on water (Mark 6:45-52)
- Healings (Mark 6:55-56)
- Driving out of a demon (Mark 7: 24-30)
- Healing a deaf and mute man (Mark 7:31-37)
- Feeding the four thousand (Mark 8:1-9)
- Healing a blind man (Mark 8:22-26)
It’s amazing when you consider all those wonderful miraculous acts that Jesus performed in the first half of Mark’s gospel. For Peter there was no other way to respond to the question: “Who do you say I am?” than to declare that Jesus was the Messiah.
I wonder if we perhaps are sometimes guilty of losing the amazement of what Jesus did due to the familiarity of the gospel readings to us? When we ponder the wonderful works that Jesus did let us allow ourselves to be amazed at what he did.
Also, like Peter let us answer confidently and boldly the question: Who is Jesus?
My alarm clock goes off. I switch the alarm off and get out of bed, a new day has begun.
After walking downstairs I switch on the BBC News and make myself breakfast. Some people never eat breakfast. I’m the opposite I never miss breakfast!
It’s time to head back upstairs and shower. I then go into the spare room and read my bible and pray. A new day is here and it’s important that at the start of this day I spend time with God. I need to feed my soul and prepare prayerfully for the day ahead. There are of course other people and situations that I need to pray about too.
This new day is important because it is a fresh opportunity to serve and know God. What happened yesterday has past. There is nothing I can do to turn the clock back to yesterday. I must leave my yesterdays in God’s hand. The good yesterdays and the bad yesterdays. Those days are gone. It’s now a new day.
I do not know what is going to happen on this new day. Perhaps if I did I might stay in bed instead! However, I can approach the new day with confident because it’s a fresh start with God. I know that God’s compassion, mercies and faithfulness are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Therefore, this morning I can rest in these wonderful promises from God.
It’s a new day. It’s not just another dreary boring day. Whether I have a difficult meeting at work today or a quiet day planned, this new day is one in which I can shine for Christ. I have fresh opportunities to be salt and light in this world. The question is will I make the most of this new day?
Many people make New Year’s resolutions. At the start of 2019 no doubt some of us will be planning to do one or more of the following:
- more exercise
- join a gym
- start a diet
- take up a new hobby
- change jobs
The beginning of a new year is often the time when we look at our lives and consider what changes we would like to see in them. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are often easy to make but harder to do!
During the last 12 months my church has been going through a challenging time. We are in the process of merging with one of our sister churches in our parish and appointing a new rector to lead both the new merged church and the parish. We were hoping to complete this in 2018 but it still has not happened yet.
I have found that it has been very easy to get distracted whilst awaiting the completion of the merger and new rector appointment. Endless speculation of what is going to happen and when is not ideal. Although I have prayed about the situation I have certainly lost focus myself.
Therefore, for me the most important New Year’s resolution is to get my priorities right and focused correctly. To that end I was pleased to hear that our parish will be starting a Christianity Explored course at the end of January. The leaflet that has been produced for the course contains the following wording:
“….. it is vital that we have an opportunity to focus our efforts and energies first and foremost into the rediscovery of what is referred to in the book of Revelation as our ‘first love’: that good news about Jesus which not only gave birth to us as Christian believers, but which we are called first and foremost to live out and proclaim to the world.”
Your situation might be very different to my one. However, I think for all of us it would beneficial to make our New Year’s resolution to rediscover our first love for Christ.