The power of our words
used to encourage others
at just the right moment
can change the course of a life.
We often have no idea
how important our words can be.
But they can stop a person
in their tracks.
Or they can propel a person
to new heights.
And Mary, the mother of Jesus,
was such an example.
When the angel first spoke to her
she was young, troubled by the news...
just a teen, in need of advice,
But the angel had told her
that her cousin Elizabeth,
always barren, was now
pregnant with child.
So Mary went to see her.
I would guess that this elder cousin
was a mentor, advisor...
the encouraging voice she sought.
Because, the Bible says...
Mary arose and went to see her,
in the hill country, with haste.
And it happened, when Elizabeth
heard the greeting of Mary,
that the babe leaped in her womb;
and Elizabeth was filled
with the Holy Spirit.
Then she spoke out
with a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
Luke 1:41-42 NKJV
How amazing is that!
I just love that as we enter
into the New Testament,
the first person we find filled
with the Holy Spirit is a woman!
And what did she do
upon receiving this amazing energy?
She used it to speak out.
And she encouraged Mary thus,
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
This blessing meant that Mary
was on the receiving end of
benefits and privileges extended from God.
Elizabeth was being used by the Holy Spirit
to encourage Mary in this "inconvenience"
that stopped her mid-engaged life,
and changed her plans, to tell her that
she had not lost anything in life,
but rather had gained so much more.
Maybe Mary wouldn't find approval of people,
but she had been chosen by God
for a grand and glorious assignment.
And from that moment forward
she would never need to doubt;
she would be under His watchful eye,
and near His hand of provision.
But what if Mary had shown up
at Elizabeth's house without that blessing?
What if Elizabeth had been
in a super crabby mood,
complaining about her swelling feet,
aching back and "lazy husband"
who never said a word to her anymore.
Or, what if Elizabeth had become
so selfish and self-absorbed about
the miracle of having her first child,
that all she could think of was herself.
And when Mary showed up,
Elizabeth wouldn't have time for her.
Either way, the Holy Spirit
would not have come to reside
in the life of Elizabeth
and that blessing would never
have been spoken over Mary.
Now God certainly could have
encouraged Mary somewhere else.
But how great it was that Elizabeth,
the more mature, seasoned from life
cousin, got the honor to speak
this blessing into young Mary's life
at just the right moment.
Because we all have times
when we are troubled like Mary.
Times when we just need even a little bit
of encouragement to get us past
that doubt, that struggle, that frustration.
And it may just be the tipping point
we needed to set us on the right path
to being in God's will for our lives.
The words we speak
are so very important in our lives
and those around us.
And they are an outpouring
of the truth inside our hearts.
Elizabeth's words came forth,
stirred by the Holy Spirit.
But she had also been mature
and open to His coming upon her.
We too, need to have hearts
that are open to whatever God has
for us to speak into others lives;
setting aside our feelings
and self-absorbed ways.
We need to be sensitive
to the leading of God.
And if He puts something on our heart
to speak, we need to ask Him
for a right time and place to do so.
Because it could just be
the very encouragement they need
to place them right in the middle
of God's will for their life.
It could just be
the very words that propel them
into their purpose that impacts many
for the cause of glorifying God!
Word of God
train me today...
To be sensitive to Your leading
and ready to speak encouragement to others.
To have a positive and joyful attitude,
knowing the words I speak can bring a blessing
that lasts beyond a lifetime.
Sticks and stones
may break my bones
but words will never hurt me!
If that's not the biggest lie
in the world, I don't know what is!
Because I can remember
some really hurtful things
that kids... and even adults
said to me, well over 20 years ago.
They may not hurt as much now
as they did back then,
but I don't remember the
nice words as much as
I remember the mean ones.
Because words are powerful!
And we truly need to understand
before we speak them
just what they can do in our life
and to those around us.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you
that once they are spoken
we can't take them back.
But do we know that
they also can be just as powerful
for the creation of good and positive
things in our lives as they can negative.
Let us consider creation,
as described at the beginning
of the Bible, in Genesis.
God, the Almighty Creator,
was alone before time began.
And all by Himself...
just the Father, Son and Spirit
decided to create.
Now as amazing as God is...
He could have just thought
the world into being.
Or, He could have blinked,
waved His hand,
snapped His fingers,
tapped His toe,
nodded His head,
coughed, or even
twirled around to create.
But God spoke the world into being.
Because He wanted to demonstrate
for us that words have creative power.
And then, as we turn the page
to the New Testament,
right at the beginning
we get to learn, from four different
perspectives about the life of Jesus
the Son of God, who came to earth
to save us from our selves.
And this is how John began...
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made
that was made.
John 1:1-2 NKJV
Now here is what is amazing.
John goes all the way back
to the beginning.
And he lets us know in this text,
that one of the many names of Jesus,
is the Word of God, and that...
He was the one who did the creating
at the beginning of time.
Jesus was the one of the three,
the triad, the Trinity, who spoke
those powerful words and created.
And without Him nothing was made.
But here's what I love.
That the Bible is also called,
the Word of God.
So when we open the pages
of the actual book, Jesus is right there
in our presence with us
when we read the Word of God.
Aren't there times
when we long to be
in the very presence of God,
open to what He has for us?
For I know personally, I struggle
with fear, doubt, anxiety...
But typically I keep it to myself
letting the thoughts tumble around
taking over my mind.
But knowing this gives me a new hope.
This changes my perspective.
And I pray that I can encourage you
in this today as well.
For this gives us a creative and
more powerful way
to handle the struggle.
What better way than
open our Bible,
BE in His presence,
and speak the Word of God
out loud over our lives.
We are now empowered knowing
that the Word of God created.
And since He was powerful enough
to bring something good about
at the beginning of time...
I mean, if inanimate things
obeyed His Word
and came together to form
land and water,
sun, moon, and stars,
plants and trees,
birds, fish, and animals,
then why wouldn't we see
powerful things happen
when we speak His Word
over our lives today?
But do we believe it?
Do we even have the faith to try?
Listen to John as he continues...
He was in the world, and
the world was made through Him,
and the world did not know Him.
He came to His own,
and His own did not receive Him.
But as many as received Him,
to them He gave the right
to become children of God,
to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh,
nor of the will of man, but of God.
He came and gave us the choice.
So that we could become His children;
so that we could belong
and not be on our own
and struggling alone.
Let us now boldly proclaim...
Oh my Word!
Oh my God!
Not as an exclamation
of surprise, shock or sarcasm.
But rather a prayer,
a dedication of heart,
receiving the offer He gave.
Taking Him as our own.
For He has the power
to change our lives when
we speak His Word.
Let us receive from Him
through faith, the power of
the Word of God.
Here are some examples
of exclamations penned by
one of Gods's bravest, David.
He certainly knew the power of God
and how to encourage himself in the Lord.
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
Word of God
train me today...
To speak Your Word by faith and know
that it has the power to create
changes in me and through me, today!
It fascinates me
that we can gather
in stadiums filled with crowds
of people from all walks of life
to cheer together for a sporting event,
or sing along with a rock star...
but we cannot agree on truth.
Don’t we all come from one Father?
Aren’t we all created by the same God?
So why can’t we get along?
Why do we desecrate
(steal from the sacredness)
the covenant of our ancestors
that binds us together?
Malachi 2:10 MSG
We all wish and hope for
a better tomorrow...
asking and praying
that our children grow up
in a world without terrorism,
political strife and financial ruin.
But we ourselves cannot agree
on which direction we want
our country to be driven.
We can't even take a stand
on what is truth and what is not.
Yet it seems that we still want it all.
Our own way, and
our own choice, with
freedom from rules that confine,
but protection from all that harms.
Don't box us in.
Don't treat us like children.
Don't tell us how to act...
what we can and cannot do.
Isn't that really a childish and rebellious heart?
Let us choose...
our rules, our way of life, our own truth.
But let us not suffer any consequences.
You make God tired with all your talk.
“How do we tire Him out?” you ask.
By saying, “God loves sinners and sin alike.
God loves all.” And also by saying,
“Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.”
Malachi 2:17 MSG
We have just softened everything
to our comfort level so that
we don't have to face the hard reality
that God is God
and we are not.
We have been taken in by
the darkness and fallen asleep
at the wheel of a comfortable life.
But the Creator of it all says...
“I am God—yes, I Am.
I haven’t changed.
And because I haven’t changed, you...
haven’t been destroyed.
You have a long history of
ignoring My commands.
You haven’t done a thing I’ve told you.
Return to Me so I can return to you,”
Malachi 3:6 MSG
And the word of the Lord
still stands true today.
He continues, as He has for centuries,
to pursue the people He created.
Even to the giving of
His own life for us.
While we just busily
rush around, still hoping
to get the most for us
with the least amount
We walk so proud and unaware,
blinded to the fact
that we are truly jars of clay.
We are fragile and broken
We cannot possibly pick ourselves up
and fit these pieces together again
Wake up, sleeper!
There is a greater purpose
and Kingdom that surrounds.
This life and breath we were given
is not all about us.
The troubles that we face daily
are not because we are just
running a bad streak of luck.
The broken pieces of life scattered about
that we are desperate to sweep away
were meant to be rebuilt
into a new life filled and
shining through with His light.
They are intended to get our attention
and purposed to turn our heart
toward the very God who longs
to save us from shame and confusion.
It's not for us to shake our fist
at the air and wonder why He's not for us
“You have spoken hard, rude words to me.
“You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’
"When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God.
What do we ever get out of it?
When we did what He said and
went around with long faces,
serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
what difference did it make?
Those who take life into their own hands
are the lucky ones.
They break all the rules and
get ahead anyway.
They push God to the limit and get by with it.’”
Then those whose lives honored God
got together and talked it over.
God saw what they were doing
and listened in.
A book was opened in God’s presence
and minutes were taken of the meeting,
with the names of the God-fearers
all the names of those
who honored God’s name.
“They’re mine, all mine.
They’ll get special treatment
when I go into action.
I treat them with the same consideration
and kindness that parents give the child
who honors them.
Once more you’ll see the difference
it makes between being a person
who does the right thing and
one who doesn’t,
between serving God and
not serving him.”
Malachi 3:13-18 MSG
I want to be one
who's name is written in that book;
I want to be one who honors God.
Word of God
train me today...
To know that I am Yours, Lord,
and You will go into action on my behalf
because I honored You today.
To keep my eyes open
to Your Kingdom purpose
and to let others know
that life is about so much more
than getting my way now!
I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood.
But the other night,
I would have sworn that Transformers...
you know, like the ones in the movie
with Shia Laboeuf, where on their way
though the trees in my back yard.
Seriously, it was this ongoing,
crazy loud and destructive
sort of crashing noise that had me
a bit concerned for my safety.
I stopped what I was doing,
turned down the volume
on every device around me to listen.
Was it a helicopter,
a distant train,
a diesel truck on a street nearby?
I couldn't identify the noise as
anything I'd heard before.
Nor was it a consistent sound
or volume, as it kept morphing.
So I ventured to the back door.
First, I just looked out.
Then I stepped out to listen
and look around.
And what I discovered
was nothing like I expected.
for God had made them
rejoice with great joy;
the women and the children
also rejoiced, so that
the joy of Jerusalem
was heard afar off.
I wonder if way back then...
in the day of Nehemiah,
some of the people in towns nearby
had to stop what they were doing,
to turn down the volume
on every device around them to listen.
Just what made all that commotion
down there in Jerusalem
that was traveling so far?
I bet it was like nothing
they had ever heard before.
Probably not even a consistent sound
or volume, as it may have kept morphing.
And I bet they too,
ventured to the back door.
First, to just looked out.
But then to step out to listen
and look around.
Now at the dedication
of the wall of Jerusalem
they sought out the Levites
in all their places, to bring them
to Jerusalem to celebrate
the dedication with gladness,
both with thanksgivings
and stringed instruments
Nehemiah 12:27 NKJV
Nehemiah had actually
gathered two large thanksgiving choirs
which he lined up facing
two differed directions down the wall.
And he stood in the middle
with the leaders of Judah who
were raised up on top of the wall.
There were instruments and singers...
and the vibration echoed off the walls,
like an amphitheater, ringing into the hills
that surrounded the city of Jerusalem.
It was such a grand celebration
that neighboring towns and villages
could hear the celebration from afar.
They certainly had to wonder
what are those crazy people doing down there?
And God sure likes the attention.
Glory, honor and praise we give
when we rejoice with gladness
over all that He has done.
How great it is when we are willing
to sing and praise so openly
that others actually notice enough
to ask what the commotion is all about;
opening the door to a conversation
where we can let them know
all that God has done for and through us.
Transformers bringing notice to God,
making a joyful noise to be heard from afar.
Not quite the same as what I heard
after opening my back door...
I only wish.
Mine was not a thanksgiving choir,
nor stringed instruments and cymbals banging.
But rather a neighbor's pool party
of rowdy 12 year old boys...
with surround sound cranked to full blast
on the outdoor movie screen which was
showing some sort of action flick.
So I returned to my bedroom
at least knowing I was safe
no matter how loud and long it seemed
the crashing clatter came and went.
And I could still rejoice
that though my walls did vibrate,
at the monstrous sounds next door,
they would not crumble nor fall.
But it was a great reminder
of the celebration of those
who danced and sang around those walls
rebuilt at the mercy of God
who loved this city of Jerusalem.
Word of God
train me today...
To never neglect the sound of rejoicing.
To know that I can bring
glory and attention to You,
transforming a moment of silence
into one of glory from afar.
he new Jerusalem was established.
The temple rebuilt, the walls completed.
Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah
had completed the tasks which God
had placed upon their hearts to do.
The work completed by Israelites alone,
denying the offers of help by outliers
who only had plans to interfere
and cause confusion.
The construction costs and supplies
provided by kings and kingdoms
who were not remotely of the same
lineage of these people
But God who owns it all, saw it fit
to move their hand, to write the orders,
to supply all that was needed.
Now these renewed citizens
of this rebuilt Jerusalem would need
to learn the original ways of the Holy City.
How to live, serve and breathe
in very presence of a Holy God who
made His dwelling in this Temple.
But holiness must be preserved.
So God called once more upon
the Levites, a chosen tribe of Jacob
to staff and protect this House of God.
All these, who were chosen as
gatekeepers at the thresholds, were...
established in their office of trust.
The gatekeepers were on the four sides,
east, west, north, and south...
the four chief gatekeepers,
who were Levites, were entrusted
to be over the chambers and
the treasures of the house of God.
And they lodged around the house of God,
for on them lay the duty of watching, and
they had charge of opening it every morning.
1 Chronicles 9:22, 24, 26-27 NKJV
Like guards who stand watch,
these gatekeepers needed to protect
this special place, this residence of God,
from being defiled,
from being diminished,
from being destroyed again.
For the first time it happened,
was not simply when Babylonian troops
came in and tore apart the physical building.
The House of God had been ruined
long before one stone was even scarred
by the ravages of any foreign foe.
Truth be told, the harm that was done,
causing the very presence of God
to leave Jerusalem, to withdraw Himself
from their midst and allow the city destroyed,
came from within... and not without.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
And the hearts of men and women
within the city of Jerusalem,
within the land of Judah and Israel
had turned to worship other things.
They no longer placed God first and foremost
in their heart, mind and soul.
They no longer worshiped Him and chose Him
to be the center of their life.
They had slowly become more like
the culture that surrounded, rather than
being faithful to the God that delivered them
from slavery and bondage in Egypt.
And it was not just the common people,
but leaders, elders, priests and kings.
For when gray seeps into a culture,
it's a fog that is often hard to contain.
So understandably, the original gatekeepers
would have had difficulty guarding a Temple
when the people and priests were not
carrying in anything that looked like
it might defile the House of God.
But in fact, they were smugglers...
for the darkness the brought was within
rather than without.
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.
But God certainly saw it.
And because God was unable
to look upon it, the House of God
So how do these new gatekeepers
keep from this happening again?
For certainly they too, will be unable
to see what is smuggled past them
within the heart.
But is it truly their job?
Or rather ours...
to establish trust
to guard all four sides,
to value the treasures of God.
For we should be on duty,
on guard of our own heart,
in charge of opening it every morning
to God before we allow
the culture around
to engulf us in the gray
that creeps in like a fog
that is often hard to contain.
We are the gatekeepers
of our own heart, mind and spirit.
We need to set a watch
and decide who sits on the throne
and fills the presence of the house within.
For until we do,
we will be subject to
Word of God
train me today...
To be aware at the gate of my heart,
ready to watch from all four sides.
To open my heart to You first each morning
and guard against the gray.
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