Speech

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October 19/Weekend

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

My title for this is Listening First vs Speaking First.

It seem this past week has been the week to write and concentrate on speech, on what comes out of the mouth. I read Proverbs 18 & 19 together and chapter 18 goes with that flow.

There’s a saying when speaking about James 1:18 where it says we ought to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry.”  They say, “God has given us two ears and one mouth. There’s a reason for that.” After reading Proverbs 18, I see that even more. LISTEN:

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”  (6-7)

“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (8)

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (13)

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (15)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (21)

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity, than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (19:1)

You get the point. I certainly do. It is time to listen better and speak less.

“Father, help me to heed my own words. Help to listen better, even listen twice as much as I speak. And when I speak, let them be words of life.”

October 17

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Telling the Truth vs Blowing Doors Off.

No matter what men may say; no matter how blustery they get; no matter how often a person might say, “Tell me the truth;” there are times hearing the truth is hard to take…especially when it is delivered by the wrong person or mean-spiritedly. I have met people who take pride in “telling it like it is” and I honestly don’t mind that. But sometimes that person just doesn’t know how to say it.

Receiving it is often not any easier to take. No matter how vocal the person is-“Tell me straight out”- important words are often accepted like fingernails on a chalkboard (you do remember what those are don’t you?).  Proverbs 17:10 says, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” Truth delivered in the right spirit to a person’s heart that is receptive to that truth is a good thing. The man of understanding- as Proverbs describes him- accepts the truth. It may be a bitter pill to swallow but the man of understanding grasps its intent. I’ve been on the receiving end of some much-needed reproof. Someone being honest with me, confronting me about something I’ve said or done. Hearing it is not fun, but essential.

Sometimes the truth is hard to hear and even harder to accept. But if it is from God, then I need to hear it. I can be obstinate and stubborn (the rest of 17:10 call that being a fool), or accepting and grateful someone loved me enough to tell the truth.

“Father, this all depends on the state of my heart also. Will I accept the reproof/rebuke or reject it? Help me not to be obstinate or too proud to hear what you are saying to me.”

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Today is Braden’s 13th birthday. Jo and I wouldn’t miss that for anything in the world. Interesting I should read this today from Proverbs 17: “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.” (v.6a).  Not too thrilled about the aged part, 🙂 but absolutely excited and thrilled by the grandson/grandfather part. “Lord, you know the prayer I began praying the moment I heard Janna was pregnant. Please hear my heart and bring it to fruit.”

The being said, I will not be posting tomorrow morning as we will be spending the night in Ohio; I will not have a computer; and we are bringing him back for the weekend so Tami can see him. Prayers for safe travel are appreciated.

October 15

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

I’m less than a day removed from cataract surgery in one eye (the other comes next Monday). I go back today for an exam and they will pop out the right lens of my glasses. I’m guessing that will help with the blurred vision.  So, that’s my excuse for errors in my typing today.  🙂

My  title for today’s devotion is Encouragement vs Discouragement.

“And seldom is heard and discouraging word/And the skies are not cloudy all day.” That’s a refrain from a cowboy song of yesteryear: Home, Home on the Range. It is, of course, sort of a Pollyanna song and view of life. It’s simply not possible to go through life without some discouragement.

But…I can go a long way toward not being part of that discouragement simply by watching what I say. Today’s devotion is a bit of a piggyback of yesterday’s on speaking too quickly (losing our temper) vs allowing time between what happens and our words. Today’s has more to do with what I say. Are the words I say encouraging someone or discouraging someone?

Proverbs 15:26b says, “…but gracious words are pure.”  Verse 30 adds, “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.”  Those verses tell me my reaction to others and events and their response, is largely determined by the way it is presented. That also reminds me that what I say is important but the way  I say it is equally important. Some questions flood my mind. Do I pass along good words? Kind words? Gracious words? Or do I pass along words that sting and hurt and are like barbs to a person’s soul? Are my words encouraging or discouraging someone? Do they rejoice someone’s heart and refresh someone’s bones?

Some people seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Do my words ease that burden or do they add to it and make it heavier? There is no doubt in my mind what and which words the Father would have me use and share.

“Father, may my words be those which lift other’s up. May they be words which echo Proverbs 15:30 and lift a heart and refresh the bones. Let my words today be words of encouragement and not discouragement. To put it another way: let them be words of life.”

October 14

Monday, October 14th, 2019

My title for this devotion is InstaPot vs Slow Cooker.

One of Jo’s favorite kitchen gadgets is her InstaPot. I’m not a kitchen aficionado by any stretch, but she has explained it to me as a gadget that speeds up the cooking process so that what would take multiple hours to cook can actually be cooked in a fraction of the time. That’s the dumbed-down version for me.  🙂

Now, that is in contrast to the slow cooker or what is called a crock pot. A slow cooker is designed to do just that: to slow cook food. This is one of Tami’s favorite ways to cook. Put something in the slow cooker before you leave for school/work; put it on a timer or on low; and when you come home at the end of the day it is hot and done. Tender. Moist. Same result as the InstaPot but it takes much longer.

That came to mind as I read Proverbs 14:17 this morning: “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and man of evil devices is hated.” It is that first part that stuck out to me. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have seen people “lose it” and cause all kinds of havoc when, as they say, cooler heads would have prevailed. Battles have been fought; wars have been waged; churches have been split; relationships have been ruined all because someone could not keep their temper in check.

I once had a lady tell me, when I questioned her about her temper, that “people know where I stand and so I say what I got to say and then its over.”  I’d seen the devastation she left behind so I told her, “Yeah. Just like a bomb. You explode and leave all kinds of destruction in your wake.” Yeah…she wasn’t very happy with me. But least she didn’t blow up all over me.

Quick tempers; letting people know how you feel; indiscriminately blowing up; that’ s not good. Proverbs 14 says it is acting foolishly. And who likes to be called a fool? Stay under control. Guard that temper.

“Father, there are different reasons why people lose their temper. Help me not to be one of those people. Help me to keep my emotions and my reactions under control. Your control!”

October 10-11/Weekend Extra

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

I was in Ohio the past couple of days and didn’t take my computer so I am using my journal entry from Thursday morning to be my entry for this weekend.

My title for this devotion is Holy Speech vs Vulgar Speech.

I’ve been hit two ways this morning. First, in my Scripture reading from Proverbs 10: 11 & 19- “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

Then as I sat waiting for Jo while she was taking care of some things, I was listening to my Spotify playlist and “Only a Holy God” by CityAlight came on.

I know I’m from the older generation (you know how it pains me to say that?  🙂 ), especially as a pastor, so what I’m thinking comes from that perspective. I have noticed some common characteristics of the younger generation of pastors. They seem to be a generation (and I am making a general statement here) that loves their beer (especially); loves their cigars or pipes; and loves to use salty language. Not all but many. There was some of that in my generation, to be sure, but it seems more acceptable and widespread today. I’m not judging someone who wants to down a beer or two or smoke a cigar or pipe (I have done neither), but I’m more concerned about the words that flow from the mouth, sometimes indiscriminately. I  keep thinking of James’ words in chapter 3: “Can blessing and cursing come from the same mouth? My brothers these things should not be.” I’m not young and Many younger pastors seem to be taking the freedom in Christ and His grace a little too lightly. In my mind and heart, vulgarity has no place in the pulpit or even in everyday language. And even though it is not considered vulgar or blasphemous, I cringe every  time I hear the word “sucks” or “screwed” in conversation, let alone from the pulpit. Call me old-fashioned, but I do believe godly speech is or ought to be one of the hallmarks of a man of God. I reiterate: I’m referring to a pastor or someone who feels God’s calling on his life.

And lest it be perceived I’m only shouting at those who cuss or swear, how about those of us who gossip? Or belittle? Or those who shade our words with sexual innuendo? Or criticize? Or (fill in the blank)? And so yes, I’m including myself. My speech in total reflects my heart and who controls it.

“Father, may my speech be that which builds up and encourages rather than tear down. May it glorify You in all ways and in all things. As the song says and Ecclesiastes 5:2 repeats: “Let my words be few.” All for You and for Your glory.”

Here is the CityAlight song that got to me.

October 1

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

My title for this devotion is Meaningful Words vs Blowhard, Empty Words.

I need to make a confession. I’ve been reading through Job in my morning Quiet Time and I’ve had trouble concentrating. I know the basic backdrop of Job.  He has it all. All but his life is taken away.  He has three “friends” who become very accusatory of him. He must have some hidden sin. He’s really not the righteous person he pretends to be. He is in rebellion against God. Blah. Blah. Blah. I’d say sarcastically “some friends they are” or “with friends like that who needs enemies” but I digress. You see…that’s not the whole story. They pretend in their blowhard, empty words to pretend to speak for God. They pretend to know God’s thoughts.

They don’t. If I was Job I’d say, “Take a hike!” In chapter 22, Eliphaz accuses Job of being wicked. In the margin of my Bible I highlighted verses 21-30 and noted it as Accusation of Job’s rebellion. Well, it appears Job has questions of his own. But they are not accusatory questions like I might raise. No. Just the opposite. He raises the fact that He cannot understand God because of the “bigness” of God. (23: 8-17).

Why is this important to me? Because I feel the same way at times. Wondering what I did to “deserve” the treatment I’m getting. I question my commitment. My walk. Am I holy? But it doesn’t come down to what I think or who I am. It comes down to what God thinks and who He is. Take a moment and read Job 23: 8-17 and see if doesn’t give you that perspective. It did me. “He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

“Father, may my commitment to you only grow stronger through the daily struggles-be they big or small-I face. May I see the words of others- if they do not reflect You and Your Word- as blowhard, empty words which cannot affect or change Your view of me.”

August 19

Monday, August 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Open Mouth vs Closed Mouth.

I woke up this morning to the sound of a cricket that seemed to be right in my ear. I don’t mind hearing them when they are outside and I am inside. Or if I’m outside with them. I’m not too fond (translated: I can’t stand it) when I am inside and they are too. I finally pin-pointed where it was coming from, but that thing was so loud it fooled me. It was actually outside the kitchen window. Okay, so I let it go. But the guy wouldn’t shut up! He wouldn’t take a break from rubbing his legs together. He had to continually let me know he was there. After almost 45 minutes I finally said, “Enough” and turned the outside light on and went outside. He is no more. Silence. Sweet silence!

I know he was only acting according to his nature. Just like a bullfrog bulls. A skunk skunks (badly). A bird chirps. A cricket cricks. It is his nature to announce his presence by rubbing his legs together. Unless…someone comes around. Then he actually stops. He had actually stopped letting me know he was there when I went outside but I found him hiding.

Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Like the old adage attributed to Abe Lincoln: “It is better to keep your mouth shut and thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Why do I feel like I always have to say something? Why can I not just keep my mouth shut? Sometimes when I speak, I speak words of good, words that might be considered wise. But sometimes I “open mouth and insert foot.” I need to be more selective when I speak and what I speak. I don’t always have to be heard. Those people sometimes get squashed.

“Father, may I choose wisely when to open my mouth and when to close it. The cricket who kept chirping is no more. May it not be that people long for me to be no more in their presence because of my mouth.”

August 15

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Encouraging Words vs Discouraging Words.

“Home, home on the range/Where the deer and the antelope play/Where seldom is heard a discouraging word/And the skies are not cloudy all day.”

WOW! Talk about a song we wish could be true! We could live all day, every day without one word of discouragement being said. I read that the night President Lincoln was shot they found some interesting items in his pockets: 2 spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocket knife, a watch fob, a handkerchief, a leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate bill, and 8 newspaper clippings, including several that praised him and his policies. Seemingly normal stuff, except for the Confederate bill and the newspaper clippings. Was the latter there because he needed to hear good things? Was he a bit discouraged from the long, drawn out war between two factions of his beloved nation? Did he need the encouragement? Did he read them to Mrs. Lincoln out loud as they dressed for the play? ‘Course we will never know.

But there is something to be said about encouraging words. Proverbs 15 has several references to this. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (v.4). “The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the heart of fools.” (v.7). “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (v.13). But maybe the best is this one: “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (v.23).

There is no doubt our words make a difference. How am I at spreading encouraging words? There are some whose day is made by a kind or encouraging word. The opposite is also true. Some people are hurt deeply, even destroyed, by unkind words.

“Father, help me to check my words before they leave my lips. May I speak words of encouragement, not words of discouragement to others. I never know if that may be me some day who needs those kind words.”

August 12

Monday, August 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of the Wise vs Words of a Fool.

There is no question that words have power. Listen to the babbling of a politician or pundit. Listen to a drill sergeant. Listen to a teacher/professor. Listen to a coach. Listen to a false teacher or preacher. Words have the power for good and for evil.

The words of Proverbs 12 ring out in their truthfulness and forthrightness. I’m going to put those verses here and let Scripture speak for itself.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (v.15)

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (v.16)

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (v.17)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (v.18)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (v.19)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (v.22)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (v.25)

Those words of Scripture speak for themselves. No commentary is needed. The only question which remains is what can I/what can you do to make my/your words life-giving instead of life-sucking?

“Father, help me to measure my words. Help my words to be words of wisdom. Words that give life. Words of truth. Words that build up. Transform my words today.”

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May 9

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

My title today is Speak Against or Speak For.

Have you noticed how easy it is to speak against someone? You’ve been done wrong. You’ve been attacked. You’ve been misrepresented. You’ve taken it on the chin. What to do? What to say?

I found an interesting tidbit today as I read in I Samuel 21.  First, the backdrop (I read it yesterday). Saul had threatened to kill David. Jonathan warned him by shooting arrows. David and Jonathan had made a covenant with each other and that covenant came into play here. David fled. Saul found out what Jonathan had done and 20:30-34 records the exchange. Saul called Jonathan a “son of perverse, rebellious woman” (wonder what that translates to in 2019?). He ends up throwing a spear at Jonathan. So much for fatherly love!!

Now to Chapter 21. David and his men are hungry so they go to Ahimelech, the priest, and ask for something to eat. The only thing there is the bread from the Table of Shewbread. But what interested me was David’s conversation with Ahimelech. Twice David would not speak against Saul.

First, David tells Ahimelech “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.'” [21:2] Second, David needed a weapon. No man of war leaves without his weapon but when asked where his was David said, “…because the king’s business required haste.” [21:8]

Twice David had the opportunity to speak against Saul but he didn’t. The backstory tells us why David fled. But instead of railing against Saul and seeking Abimelech’s sympathy and support, David covered over the real reason. He refused to speak against the king.

This is not a devotion on “Touch not the Lord’s anointed” and how we ought not say anything against the pastor. That is a bunch of nonsense. I have yet to meet one who is infallible. This is a devotion on how it is sometimes better to keep our mouth shut than to say anything against someone-friend or foe. Very often the best defense is that which is not said. Let me round it off with this verse from Psalm 49:20: “Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” I’m inclined to believe we need to come down off our high-and-mighty judge’s chair and just keep quiet.  Let’s choose our words we say about others or for others wisely.

“Father, put a guard on my lips. Put a door over my mouth. In other words, help me to put a lid on it.If I don’t have something good to say, help me not to say it.”