Charles Stanley – The Words of Our Mouth

 

James 3:1-12

Have you ever considered what a wonderful gift speech is? When God created us, He gave us a voice and a language so we could communicate. With our tongues we can praise and glorify God, teach His Word, pray, and express encouragement and loving devotion to one another.

However, our voices also have the power to hurt. It often starts with something small, like a thoughtless comment that can snowball, causing unforeseen damage. At times we may express our opinion in a critical way, which tears the other person down. Or out of curiosity, we might ask a question or make a suggestion that sows seeds of doubt and distrust, thereby damaging another person’s reputation.

Scripture calls this gossip, and God has strong words to say about those who engage in it. They separate close friends, betray confidences, and stir dissension. Most alarming of all is the fact that the Greek word for a malicious gossip is diabolos, which is also translated “devil.” When we use our words to tear others down, we are acting like the devil rather than like Jesus Christ.

God takes our words very seriously, and so should we. Jesus said, “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt. 12:34). Therefore, what we need is a heart transformation, and the only one who can do that is God.

Since gossip is the opposite of love, ask the Lord to give you His love for others so you can be someone who protects reputations, covers sins, and blesses others with your words.

Bible in One Year: 1 Timothy 4-6

 

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Our Daily Bread — Heaven’s Love Song

 

Read: Revelation 5:1–13 | Bible in a Year: Joel 1–3; Revelation 5

We love him because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

In 1936, songwriter Billy Hill released a popular hit song titled “The Glory of Love.” Before long a nation was singing about the joy of doing even little things out of love for one another. Fifty years later, lyricist Peter Cetera wrote a more romantic song with a similar title. He imagined two people living forever, knowing together they did it all—for the glory of love.

Revelation, the last book in the Bible, describes a new love song that will someday lift the voices of everyone in heaven and earth (Revelation 5:9, 13). The music begins, however, in a minor key of mourning. John, our narrator, cries, seeing no answer to all that has gone wrong with the world (vv. 3–4). But his mood brightens and the music builds to a crescendo (vv. 12–13) as John learns the real glory and story of love. Soon he hears all creation praising the powerful Lion-King of Judah (v. 5), who has won the hearts of His subjects by lovingly sacrificing Himself, like a Lamb, for our rescue (v. 13).

In the most moving lyrics ever sung, we see why even simple acts of kindness rise on the wings of a song. The glory we sing about reflects the heart of our God. We sing about Him because He gave us our song.

Father, please help us to see that even the smallest acts of love and kindness can remind us of Your love for us.

In what ways can you thank God today through simple acts of kindness?

By Mart DeHaan

INSIGHT

A repeated word in today’s passage is worthy (vv. 2, 4, 9, 12), which is used to describe Jesus. But what does worthy mean? While a dictionary definition is helpful, the passage itself defines it. First, Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed (v. 5) and can therefore open the scroll and break the seals. But John goes on to describe how He has triumphed. Jesus is worthy because He has triumphed by being slain and purchasing people with His blood (v. 9).

J.R. Hudberg

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – The Images We Think We Are

Malcolm Muggeridge is remembered as one of the most notable figures of the twentieth century.  The wit and style of the self-dubbed “fatally fluent”” journalist made him as endearing as he was controversial.  His presence was a decipherable entity in print, over the radio, and on television. With over fifty years in the public eye, Muggeridge knew well the effect of publicity on the human ego.  In the words of one biographer, Muggeridge knew well “the strange metamorphosis that turns an individual into an image.”(1) He once confessed, “There is something very terrible in becoming an image… You see yourself on a screen, walking, talking, moving about, posturing, and it is not you. Or is it you, and the you looking at you, someone else? […] Once, sleeping before a television screen, I woke up to find myself on it.  The experience was quite terrifying—like some awful nightmare to which only someone like Edgar Allan Poe or Dostoevsky could do justice.”(2)

In our media-saturated, celebrity-producing, me-obsessed culture, the warning may well be appropriate.  Though I do not think it is only the televised that find themselves in danger of becoming an image.

Of course, some of the images we may have of ourselves obviously come with the territories. A student embraces the image of student; a new mom learns to see herself as a mom; a journalist sees himself as a journalist. Muggeridge was speaking of images beyond this—namely, a journalist who starts to see himself as an icon, or perhaps, a mom who starts to see herself as an image of success, or grief, helpfulness, or humility. This is perhaps where many of us can relate.

The prophet Habakkuk records an exchange with the divine, in which God inquires: “Of what value is an idol, since its maker has shaped it? Or an image that teaches lies? For its maker trusts in what has been made, though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!”(3)

You see, the dangerous thing about becoming an image is that we start to believe that we created that image: I am the maker of my success in this company.  I am the one who has molded myself to be this flourishing employee, parent, or pious person. But such images only teach lies. Interestingly, God spoke these words to the prophet after Habakkuk had uttered a complaint questioning the image and identity of God:  O Lord, are you not from everlasting? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? God replied by asking Habakkuk to look again at the images he had fashioned and the Image before him.

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Joyce Meyer – Practice Common Courtesy

 

…[Love] is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.… — 1 Corinthians 13:5 (AMPC)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Being courteous is a way to show kindness and respect for others. One way to be courteous is to always say “please” and “thank you.” These are two forms of common courtesy that I encourage you to practice.

I want to especially encourage you to be courteous at home with your family. I am trying to remember to always say “please” when I ask Dave to do something for me, and “thank you” when he has done it.

It is very important that we don’t take our loved ones for granted. Having good manners in public should be an overflow of what we normally do at home behind closed doors.

Love is not rude, according to 1 Corinthians 13:5. Rudeness usually results from selfishness, and one way to fight it is to use good manners at all times. Our society is filled with rudeness, harshness, and crudeness, but this does not display the character of God.

Jesus said He is “not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC), and we need to follow His example.

We certainly need to make a point of being thankful and expressing our gratitude. In several places, the Bible makes the point that we are to be thankful and say so. We may think we are thankful, grateful people, but what is in the heart does come out of our mouths (see Matthew 12:34). If we are indeed appreciative, expressing thanks should come naturally for us.

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me today to show courtesy—kindness and respect—with everyone around me. I don’t want to be selfish or rude. Please continue to change me and make me more like Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Quick and Powerful

 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, KJV).

Often, what you and I have to say may seem weak and insipid. But then we have the clear promise that it really will accomplish something, for it has several characteristics that guarantee such results.

First, the holy inspired Word of God is impregnated with the power of the Holy Spirit and is quick-living. It is energetic and active – not dead, inert or powerless.

Second, the Word is powerful. Its mighty power awakens the conscience, reveals our fears, bares the secret feelings of the heart and causes the sinner to tremble at the threat of impending judgement.

Third, the Word is sharp-sharper than a two-edged sword. The Word has power to penetrate. It reaches the heart, laying open our motives and feelings.

Fourth, the Word pierces-penetrates.

Fifth, the Word discerns-shows what our thoughts and intentions are. Men see their real character in the mirror of God’s Word.

Those are some of the reasons for choosing to use the Word of God in every possible situation, allowing it to be its own best defense. God’s Word will never return unto Him void.

Bible Reading:Psalm 1

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make more use of the sword, the Word of God, as I draw upon God’s power to live supernaturally.

 

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Max Lucado – Christ Does a Work in You

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Jesus not only did a work for us; he does a work in us!  Colossians 1:27 tells us, “The mystery in a nutshell is just this:  Christ is in you.”  He commands our hands and feet, requisitions our minds and tongues.  As Romans 8:29 declares,  “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.”

We’ll never be sinless, but we will sin less. And when we do sin, we have assurance that the grace that saved us also preserves us. We may lose our tempers, our perspective, and our self-control.  But we never lose our hope.  Scripture promises, “He is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!”

Read more Because of Bethlehem

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Foul-mouthed Santa frightens children

It was the nightmare before Christmas.

Children were lined up to visit Santa Claus in the English town of St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, last Sunday. An alarm at a nearby but unrelated event caused an evacuation of the building.

Organizers euphemistically said later that Santa “assisted in the evacuation of the building.” Here’s how: Parents and children were leaving when Santa tore into the room, ripped his hat and beard off in front of fifty children, and started shouting and swearing at people to leave.

One mother said she had to tell her children that the man wasn’t really Santa but an imposter who would be going on the “naughty list.” Organizers will try again this weekend but have not said whether the same Santa Claus will return.

Christmas as a spiritual buffet

In a similar vein, I heard recently about an unusual manger scene.

I was honored last Wednesday to be back on the radio show, “Equipped with Chris Brooks.” Chris is a brilliant pastor, cultural theologian, and radio host. During our conversation, he told us about a good friend who was jogging in his neighborhood and passed a nativity scene. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi were all present.

But the baby Jesus was missing.

As Chris noted, some traditions don’t add Jesus to their manger scenes until Christmas Eve. Perhaps that’s what this neighbor intended. Or perhaps this nativity scene is a sign of our times.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Foul-mouthed Santa frightens children