The Power of Words

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Words, have the power to tear down or build up. They have the power to praise God  or to curse God. Words are used to give thanks or to complain.

How then we use our words is vastly important. The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” though catchy is untrue. Words have the power to spur others on to good deed but likewise have the power to cripple and hurt others. King David prayed that the Lord would, “set a guard over his mouth,” because he knew his words could do either harm or good. Peter was known for sticking his foot in his mouth because often he failed to think before he spoke.

In our home, unfortunately, there are many days our use of words is not good. Often arguing over trivial things, complaining over difficulties or about what we don’t like and even at times using words to hurt one another. James tells us in 1:19, that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” How many problems would be solved if we just applied this principle!

Growing up I often heard others say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Interestingly, I now find myself saying the same thing to my children. But, I have added a second one, “If you can’t speak without grumbling and complaining, don’t speak!”

We are told by James in chapter three, that “the tongue is set on fire by hell itself. That with it we bless God and curse others made in His image (3:6-9).” He makes it clear that this should not be! I love how James ends his letter in chapter five. Basically summing up what we should say depending upon our circumstances. He says, “Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? He should sing songs of praise (5:13).” Therefore, when times are hard, instead of grumbling, we should pray. When times are good, we should sing His praises. Knowing that they are only good by His grace.

So how then do we instill this attitude of gratitude into our own lives and the lives of our children?

1. We must pray, pray for ourselves and our kids for a desire to please the Lord with our words.

2. We must set the example. Choosing to remain quiet instead of complaining. Choosing to give thanks for all that the Lord has done.

3. We must resist the devil and the urge to give into the negative pull. Don’t get sucked into the attitude of others.

4. Refuse to argue and learn to walk away.

5. Think long and hard before you speak, measuring the best use of your words.

6. Depend fully upon the Lord for He alone can tame the tongue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it enough to believe??

images - CopyGrowing up in church, our youth choir sang a song called, “I Believe.”  It speaks of believing Noah built an ark, that Isaiah was a prophet,  that God created the world, in Adam and Eve and so forth. Its a catchy song, one I always enjoyed, but lately I have been wondering, is it really enough to believe?

The Bible says that “the demons believe and tremble (James 2: 19).” Yet, we know they are not followers of Christ. The majority of people you ask today will say, they believe in God. Many believe Jesus lived and died on Calvary. Yet, is this enough?

Is it enough to believe God is faithful, that He can provide, that He is in control? Is it enough to believe He cares and never leaves or forsakes us?

See, believing these things is great and they are indeed the starting point, but I do no believe belief is enough. Belief without faith, belief without action is not enough.

Our actions will prove what we believe, whether it is true or false.

This is the message James was preaching to the Church at Jerusalem. Over and over he tells them that “faith without works is dead (James 2: 26).” Apparently many professed belief in Christ but these beliefs were not matched by action. Sounds a lot like today.

As my kids and I have been studying James, I have sought to drill into their heads like James over and over again. That it is not enough to know what the Bible says, it is not enough to even memorize it. We can know it backwards and forwards. But, if we do not live it, it is useless. What we say must be followed by what we do, how we live. Otherwise, we are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites to the lost world.

Throughout the past year, this has been a theme. The Lord taking me through trials and hardship, showing me my weak areas, demonstrating the places where my actions don’t always testify of what I say. Likewise, in James, this church had faced persecution and trials, otherwise he wouldn’t have begun by saying, “Consider it all joy…” Now it was time, all that they said they believed was put into action. In essence time for them to “put up or shut up.”

I believe that is the day and time we live in today as well. Too many are fed up with church, entire generations are walking away from the church. Why? Because frankly, peoples lives and actions don’t  jive with what the Bible teaches.

It’s time then that we as believers live what we say. It is time we quit quoting Scripture and start truly living it. What the world needs now is true religion which James says is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27).” 

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Why They Go

all nationsIn the past few weeks, the news has been gruesome. The bombs and killings in Egypt, Syria, Pakistan and now in Kenya have been a lot to take in. Everyone has an opinion on this and most point their fingers directly at the Muslims. However, I have a different take. You, see the reason the Muslims and others are doing these things is because they are lost and do not know the love of Christ.

In all of these countries as well as others hard places. Numerous people have gone taking the good news of Christ. By many these are seen as radical, crazy and are not understood even by their loved ones. People can not understand why they would go.

The stark reality is many of us don’t care about what is happening on that side of the world and are only affected when it gets closer to home. Yet, daily millions are dying never having heard the name of Jesus.

Why do they go, why do these missionaries give up everything the world has to offer to live among the least of these? It’s actually rather simple. They go, because the love of Christ compels them. Knowing that they could have been born on that side of the world, knowing they could have been brought up Hindu or Muslim. They realize if not for the grace of God, they too would not know the truth.

They go because they can not get over the fact that the God of the Universe loves them. That He sent His son Jesus to die for their sins. They go because they understand that the Lord deserves the praise of all peoples in all nations. They go to declare His great name.

The truth is it’s the hard places that need the love of Christ the most. So, they go knowing the worst thing that could happen is that they go to be with Jesus. They go understanding that this world is not their home. That this world has nothing to offer and they want the Lord to use them as He see’s fit.

Join me today in praying for the missionaries who have gone. Pray certainly for their safety. Yet, pray more so for the grace and strength of the Lord to be upon them. Pray that in the midst of these hard places and these set against them, that the Lord would use them to bear His name and reach the hard hearts. Pray the Lord’s name is praised throughout the whole earth.

Delighting in God’s Word

mandylynncarpenter

booksDid you know the number one best seller of all time is the Bible? It is written in countless languages, is illegal in many countries and numerous are willing to die for this book. For it is so much more than a book, it is the living Word of God. So, why then do so many of us take it for granted? Shouldn’t we be passionate about God’s Word? Shouldn’t we love it and desire it above all else?

As I came to the end of my reading of Psalm 119, I found one who truly delighted in God’s Word, who desired it above all else. Take a look at this writer‘s desire and passion for the Word of God.

“My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word (vs 148).”

Do you, do I anticipate reading the Words of God? Or do we…

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Beautiful in His Eyes

images (1)Have you ever walked through a Fun House at the fair? Thursday night, our family attended a fair and as my daughter and I walked through the fun house, we came upon the trick mirrors. Some made you look tall and skinny (I liked these) and others made you look short and fat (not so much). As we left the Fun House, I was struck by the number of girls all over the world who when looking at themselves in the mirror see themselves not as they are, but as fat, short and in essence ugly.

I know this to be true because I was once the same way. When I looked in the mirror, I did not see myself as beautiful, instead I saw only my flaws. As a high school student who longed to fit in and be popular, instead of seeing myself as God saw me, I saw myself as short, fat and ugly. It was if I was looking at a trick mirror when in reality, it was my mind and the lies of the world. Because of this I became obsessed with looking a certain way, weighing a certain amount. My days became consumed with counting calories and working out rain or shine.

I know that today many girls also struggle with their self-image. Like me they believe the lie that says they must be a perfect size and look a certain way to be accepted. Due to this, countless girls every day starve themselves, purge and dress provocatively in order to fit the part.

imagesYears ago, I wish someone had sat me down and drilled into my head that it is only the opinion of God that truly matters. That in His eyes, I was beautiful.

Ladies, listen to someone who had to learn the hard way. You are beautiful! You are created in the image of God. He designed your body and chose the color of your eyes and hair. You are His beloved, a daughter of the King. He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7) and His thoughts of you outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore (Ps. 139:18). You are beautiful, you are precious. Believe not the lies of this world and do not live to attract the attention of others. You are more than the number of likes your receive each day. More than the height of your popularity. More than the certain size you are. You are His. The only opinion that matters is Gods and He thinks you are awesome! Live for Him!!

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Overcoming Fear

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We get it, fear is not of God. Fear is the opposite of trust. Fear is sin. Yet, we all have fears. Fears of change, fears of the unknown, fears of failure. We worry about our kids, grandkids, jobs and future. We are afraid of spiders, snakes, heights and more.                                                                         It has been said that the Bible states 365 times, “do not be afraid” or “do not fear.” Therefore I’m assuming this must be important and realize since God had it written so many times, He knew we would all struggle with this issue. Remember the stories of Abraham, Moses, Noah and Joshua. “Leave your family Abraham and go to a land I will show you, Noah, build an ark and while you’re at it, gather up two of every kind of animal because I am going to flood the earth. Moses, go tell Pharoah to let my people go. Joshua, lead my people into the promised land by marching around the walls of Jericho and on the final day, shout.” All asked to do major, life changing things and yet told do not fear.  Most of us like to excuse fear and claim we have a right or good reason to be afraid. The reality, however, is that we do not  and when we are afraid, we are failing to trust in God. So, what are we to do with our fears? How do we respond when we are afraid? In essence we are to think upon truth.

1. “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3                                                       

When fear rises, we must immediately give our fears to the Lord. Instead of being afraid, we must trust God, who holds the world in the palm of His hands.

2. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7                                                                                                          

When we are afraid, pray. We must give our fears to Him, trust Him and enjoy His precious peace.

3. “Do not be afraid…..Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.” Nehemiah 4:14    

 We do not serve a weak God. We serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Our God is great. Our God is awesome. Therefore, no matter what we are facing, He is greater. We can trust Him! We must remember then whom we serve!

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The Secret to Joy – Praise

imagesPraise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord, all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

100331-590x393 - CopyDo not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

images (2)Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,

the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the Lord who remains faithful forever.

imagesHe upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down. The Lord loves the righteous.

images (1)The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

praiseThe Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 146:1-10

Practical Ways to get in Shape Spiritually

imagesWe know we should be Getting in Shape Spiritually, so that we may “discipline (our) bodies, and make it (our) slave (1 Cor. 9:27).” We also know that we have been called to “discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of godliness (I Tim 4:7).” So today, lets us focus on how to do this practically. Applying the truths of God’s Word to our every day life. For James makes it clear that our faith will be shown through our works. It is not enough to just know the truths, unless we also live them.

Making our bodies our slaves

1. This will mean establishing new habits. For instance, I realize I have trained my body to think it needs more sleep than it actually does. Therefore, I must habitually work to get up early each day until a new habit is formed.

2.  This will mean denying ourselves. One of the best ways to do this is to think of that daily indulgence you comfort yourself with. This could be coffee, chocolate, Cokes etc. Now, instead of giving into this indulgence, deny yourself. Each time the craving comes upon you, pray instead. Another way of doing this is fasting for a meal or for a day. As we deny ourselves physical things, we will also learn to deny our flesh. Each time we yield ourselves to the Spirit and allow Him to control, we deny ourselves.

3.  This will include spiritual weights. Just as it is impossible for an athlete to get into shape apart from exercise. We too must lift our spiritual weights in order to get into shape. These include daily Bible study, prayer and meditation.

4. This will require complete dependence upon the Lord. In our flesh, we will not naturally deny ourselves or look to Him. Therefore, we must depend upon Him to be our help and our strength.

5. Patience will be needed. Spiritual transformation will not take place overnight. We will all mess up, we will all fail to deny ourselves and fail in our goal of establishing new habits, the key is not to give up. Keep trying, keep confessing and keep depending on Him.

The promise:  “You will seek  Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

Though we may fail, God will never fail. For He is always faithful to His Word.

Getting in Shape Spiritually

boxing“but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” I Cor. 9:27

Discipline, most of us shudder at the word. We detest it and certainly do not intentionally inflict it.

This past week, I have lacked discipline in getting up on time, in my eating, in exercise or lack there of it and spiritually. Due to this, I have thought often about this word and began to pray that the Lord would show me what Paul meant by this and how to apply it in my own life.

The greek word here is hopopiazo, which literally means to buffet or batter. In this verse the word is used in present tense which signifies that this was Paul’s continual practice. This was no one time event, but was inflicted daily. Paul knew how weak his flesh was and he knew how much he needed the Lord and for the Lord to work in Him.  Paul disciplined his body so that instead of being a slave to it and its desires, his body was a slave to Him. doing only that which He allowed. In Romans 6:12-14 Paul paints a vivid picture of this when he says, “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lust and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourself to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”                                                                                               

In reality however, most of us are slaves to our bodies and it’s desires. John McArthur said, “Most people, including many Christians are instead slaves to their bodies. Their bodies tell their minds what to do. Their bodies decide when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat. When to sleep and when to get up. An athlete can’t do this. He follows the training rules, not his body. He runs when he’d rather be resting. He eats a balanced meal when he’d rather have a chocolate sundae. He goes to bed when he’d rather stay up and he gets up early to train, when he’d rather stay in bed. An athlete leads his body, he does not follow it. It is his clave and not the other way around.” I’m not sure about you, but as I read the above, I realized how much a slave I am to my body. Eating what it wants, doing what feels best, being lazy instead of working hard. Sleeping in instead of getting up early to pray.

Paul said he disciplines his body, making it his slave. Meaning he sought the Spirit to bring his body, his flesh into a state of servitude. He did this by, denying his flesh, taking us his cross, and following Jesus. Instead of doing what his body craved, he pressed on to do the will of God. Most of us don’t like to deny ourselves and we live in a culture that says indulge yourself and tells us we deserve the best. The Bible’s concept is then very foreign. For though we know a banana would be better than chocolate, we give into the indulgence. Though we know it’s be best to rise early to pray, we press the snooze button and go back to sleep. Though we know we are supposed to put others first, we selfishly think only of ourselves.

Today in church, our pastor preached on I Timothy 4:7 where Paul tells Timothy not to have anything to do with worldly fables, instead to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Pointing out that most of us want the Lord’s blessing, His mercy and His grace, but we want them just given to us without any effort on our part. The Christian life takes works, it takes surrender, it takes discipline. But don’t miss this for this is huge. It is God who begins the work (salvation) and it is God who completes the work in and through us (sanctification) as well. As we yield ourselves to Him through Bible study, prayer and meditation, it is the Lord who then works in us through His Word to make us more like Christ! Awesome! Let us then be committed to spiritual discipline that the Lord may work in us to produce this godliness. May we as Jesus said, deny ourselves, not being slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. That we may enjoy intimate fellowship with the Lord and so we may glorify Him.

 

When you just want to go back to bed…..

imagesWhat do you do when it is only 10 am and you just want to crawl back in bed. When you have mornings when everything that can go wrong, goes wrong and nothing sounds better than escaping back to our covers.

Being a home school mom of three, I well know these mornings. Mornings of trying to teach/referee three vivacious kids, who have more energy in their pinky than I do all together. Mornings when even after that third cup of coffee, you still feel tired and worn out. It is on such days, God has taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Just Breathdoodles-just-breathe-raindrops-text-window-Favim.com-58894

When it gets too much and your nerves are shot, close your eyes and breath. Take a deep, deep breath and however many needed to refocus. I’m always amazed how much this deep breath helps in the midst of frustration.“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4).”

2. Give Thankspraise

It is at such moments that it is easy to lose our cool. To gripe and to complain. Yet, this is the moment when we have a great opportunity to deny self and praise our Lord. What peace and joy are ours when we choose to be thankful rather than complain.

So thank Him for the kids who may be driving you crazy. Thank Him for the dog who peed the floor. Thank Him for the clothes that must be washed. For the house that though has to be cleaned provides you shelter. There is always a reason to give thanks. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (2 Thes. 5:18).”

3. Prayprayer

The Lord often allows such mornings to show us how much we are in need of Him. To get our eyes off of self and fully upon Him. Even if only for two minutes, get away. Close the door, lock it if needed and cry out to the Lord. If you are driving and unable to really get away, wherever you are, cry out to Him. Ask Him for His grace and His strength to see you through. The Lord longs to give us these good gifts and is only waiting to hear our humble cry. As you pray and release your frustrations to the Lord, He provides the peace to keep on keeping on. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always…(1 Chron. 16:11).”

There are days, when this is needed more than once. Days when not just in the morning but throughout the day. Deep breaths, praise offering and prayer are all that carry me through. Yet, I have found that as I do these things and rely upon Him, I find joy and peace in His presence. As I allow the Spirit to guide and control me, I am less likely to fall prey to the enemy or my flesh and more likely to please Him.

stone of graceYet, we all blow it right. There are days when the frustrations mount and we give into the flesh. Afterwards, we are left feeling defeated and worn. It is on such occasions we must remember that though we may have failed to be faithful, God is always faithful. He is waiting to forgive us as we come humbly to Him and tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do things right.