Words of Life

Words. Most of us find them necessary in daily life. We use them to understand what is happening around us. We also use them to express what is happening within us. They enable us to communicate ideas, feelings, dreams, facts, desires, and needs. They can cause connection or division among people. They can hurt or help. They can be powerful or empty.

God’s spoken words brought much of what we know into being. According to Genesis 1, each day “God said…” and something new was formed. Light. Space. Sea and land. Sun, moon, and stars. Birds and sea creatures. Land animals. God’s words are powerful!

The Bible is God’s Word. Although we cannot talk with him face-to-face or audibly hear His voice, His words are recorded there for us to study, understand, and heed. Psalm 119 is filled with references to the value of His Word and its impact on our lives. I remember being inspired by this verse as a child:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

The Bible offers us a precious gift: the opportunity to know God’s heart, purpose, and ways. It offers words of life that enable us to join His family and His work. We are wise to pay attention to it. Jesus affirms the value of His words as well:

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation had been laid on rock. (Matthew 7:24-25, NET)

God gives us freedom to choose what we will do with His words. Taking them seriously and acting on them leads to far more life. It brings us safety and security when problems enter our lives. Following His words provides us with a spiritual foundation that will not collapse when the storms of life come against us. As our Creator, He knows what is best for us and what will devastate us. He knows our deepest needs as well as our strengths. Although some view them as restrictive, His words are intended to provide a boundary within which we can thrive, finding far more life as we pursue a relationship with Him.

It should not be surprising that the LORD’s words have power and authority since He is all-powerful and the ultimate authority. He does not make empty promises or idle threats. His words are backed by His character and provide trustworthy instruction. He even communicates how we should use our words:

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].(Ephesians 4:29, AMP)

You must mean “Yes” when you say “Yes”. You must mean “No” when you say “No”. (Matthew 5:37, WE)

With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen! (James 3:9-10, GW)

Our words are powerful, too. They have the power to build others up or tear them down. They have the power to praise God or curse Him. They can bring hurt or healing. They reveal our character and the hidden contents of our heart. Our words can be life-giving or life-destroying. Far more life speaks words of life.

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (Ephesians 4:15, NLT)

Words of life speak the truth in love. God wants our words to speak life to the listener. He wants us to speak truth rather than flattery, boasting, or outright lies. God also wants us to speak in love, with the motive of building up the listener and revealing His character. Sometimes speaking in love is firm and direct, but it is never hateful, defensive, or vengeful. Love for God compels us to speak words of life to the people around us, whether or not they acknowledge His lordship.

The life-giving words are not just for others; far more life speaks the truth in love to ourselves as well. Our internal dialogue can build us up or tear us down. God wants to lovingly mold us into His character through words of life. He offers His children grace, help, and hope rather than condemnation, criticism, and defeat. God sees beyond our actions to understand the motives of our hearts (I Samuel 16:7). We are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27) and justified before God (Romans 5:9). God — who is perfect and aware of every secret sin we commit — does not condemn us (Romans 8:1), so surely we have no reason to condemn ourselves! God wants us to confess our sins (James 5:16) and pursue righteousness (Romans 6:13), but out of gratitude and love, not guilt and shame (Romans 10:11). Embracing these life-giving words brings far more life!

But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. (Matthew 15:18, CEV)

If you want to think and speak life-giving words, you must first have them in your heart. Study God’s words of life. Wrestle with them until you understand them so you can wholeheartedly believe them. (It is okay to ask for help; we will spend the rest of our lives growing in our understanding of His Word.) Then share far more life with others by sharing words of life with them!

Sisters,
In general, do think of words as good, bad, or neutral?
What about God’s Word makes it valuable to you?
Are more of your words to others life-giving or life-destroying? To yourself?
What helps you speak the truth in love?
Thank God for giving us His Word to help us find far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Untouched

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (Proverbs 19:23, NIV)

What a fascinating verse! Concise, straight-forward, and yet hard to grasp. Can it be literally true? Is this the ultimate experience of far more life?

The fear of the Lord. Other translations use respect, reverence, surrender, awe. They all indicate an awareness of God’s authority over us. We recognize Him as the alpha male, our leader. There is competition for this place of prominence in our hearts and minds: we can give our ultimate respect to people instead of God; we can revere power and prestige over Him; we can surrender to a lifestyle of pleasure or ease; we can be in awe of money and its privileges. It is good for us to examine our hearts and ask, “What is my primary object of fear, respect, reverence, surrender and awe? Is it God or something else?” Fear of something is the foundation on which we build our lives. This verse instructs us to place that fear in the Lord. Other verses outline more benefits of following that instruction:

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. (I Samuel 12:24, NIV)

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. (Psalm 19:9a, NIV)

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. (Psalm 25:14, NIV)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7, NIV)

…The Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. (Psalm 103:17, NIV)

The fear of the Lord adds length to life. (Proverbs 10:27a, NIV)

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress. (Proverbs 14:26a, NIV)

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (Isaiah 33:6, NIV)

Leads to life. Whatever we fear (surrender to), it leads to something. Fear of people leads to a compromised life. Fear of power and prestige leads to a consumed life. Fear of pleasure and ease leads to a self-focused life. Fear of money leads to a greedy life. But fear of the Lord leads to far more life, a life marked by integrity, investment, eternal focus, and generosity. Consider these verses about such a life:

Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39b, NIV)

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. (John 6:47, NIV)

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63, NIV)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)

You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Acts 2:28, NIV)

…Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13, NIV)

…The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (I Thessalonians 4:7, NIV)

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (I John 5:11, NIV)

Then one rests content. It is only after we have placed our fear in the Lord and found far more life that we rest contentedly. This means that we can relax in peace rather than being tied up with anxiety. It means we have joy rather than being afraid or angry about our circumstances It means we are not burdened by the past, present, or future; instead we are free to remember, enjoy, and dream. When God occupies His rightful place in our hearts, everything else falls into place.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him…Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:1, 5, NIV)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

…I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest in hope. (Acts 2:25-26, NIV)

Untouched by trouble. At first glance, this appears to be untrue. Christ-followers are plagued by trouble: health trouble, job trouble, relationship trouble, financial trouble, and more. It certainly does not feel like we are “untouched”. But our eternal security IS untouched by trouble on this earth. And our ability to walk in the Spirit — to experience love, joy and peace and be patient, kind, good, and faithful — remains untouched by trouble. We have the power, through Christ, to view our troubles as He does: momentary light afflictions. When we stay focused on eternity, we can walk through them in far more life.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9, NIV)

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19, NIV)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7, NIV)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

 …I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Corinthians 7:4, NIV)

Sisters,
What is your primary object of fear, respect, reverence, surrender and awe?
Is that leading to temporary things or far more life?
Do you rest content? If not, what is preventing that?
What perspective helps you be untouched by your troubles?
Thank God for offering you far more life today…and every day for eternity!
-Shari