Pride and the Love of Christ

by Jennifer Slattery

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51 NIV

When my actions and reactions don’t resemble my Savior and the gentleness that characterizes His wisdom from above, I know I’ve left Him behind. This happens every time I allow my fear and pride, rather than Christ, take the lead. It’s not long after that I develop an us-versus-them mentality. And my love, which Christ told us to radiate most clearly, begins to grow cold.

While praying through Luke 9 this past week, I sensed God calling me to evaluate my pride-filled tendencies. Too many times I serve from a place of superiority, which gets revealed in the ugliness that follows. I’m willing to fight for an insignificant mound of dirt, all the while ignoring the hill—Calvary—that our Savior fixed His gaze upon.

The above verse records some of the most beautiful words about Jesus: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, NIV). Knowing all He’d face in Jerusalem, He still moved forward in determination, willing to lay down His life for even His enemies.

On the way, Jesus and His disciples stopped in Samaria. They found they were not welcome there. James and John were enraged. These were half-breeds; how dare they reject The Master?   “Lord,” they said, “Do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54 NIV). They still didn’t get it: they were following a humble servant, one who would suffer for humankind, who only gave glory to the Father. He had not come to judge, but to save.

At Calvary, Jesus’ love would be vividly displayed—for those who received or rejected Him. The disciples didn’t yet understand. I suspect they were blinded by pride, thinking they, the chosen ones, had lowered themselves simply to enter Samaria. Their sense of superiority tainted any love they might otherwise have displayed.

How grieved Jesus must’ve been that day, to see putrid reservoirs of pride well up within hearts where streams of living water should’ve begun to flow.

While I’ve never asked God to obliterate an entire town, I’ve seen my pride repel the very people God died to save. Thinking of myself as entitled or more important than others as I minister is the opposite to the example Jesus consistently lived before His followers.

Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…” (Philippians 2:3 NASB). There is no room for pride or entitlement when we are serving a Savior who is filled with humility and love.

Lord, remind us, daily, of our need for You, precisely why we need You so desperately, so that our hearts won’t decay from the sin of superiority. Fill us so fully with Your love that only what is good and lovely and pure can remain.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the Conversation: Has pride ever gotten in your way of effectively ministering to others?

Journey to Joy

by Melissa Heiland

If I’m honest, I’ll tell you, I still cringe a little bit when I hear the phrase, “joy in suffering.” The words just don’t go together in my mind, but I know they are paired in the Bible. And so, I pursue joy in suffering. I have not reached the mark on this. I am no expert, just a fellow-traveler on this journey to joy. I have searched the Bible for truth and guidance on how to experience true joy in the face of deep suffering. I have discovered eight practices that I believe are helpful for the journey.

Slow Down. Trauma has forced me to slow down. I simply cannot work at my former pace. I believe the Lord sometimes allows us to suffer, so that we will run to Him. There is healing in His presence. Spend time with the Lord every day. Allow Him to heal your wounds. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 NIV

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

Surround Yourself with Kind People. When you are suffering, people may say and do things that hurt you more. Ask the Lord to send you a friend who will listen to you and love you without judgment.

Be Kind to Yourself. When we suffer as believers, we often feel guilt for not feeling joyful and brave. Give grace to yourself. God loves you and He understands.

Have Fun. Think back to the things you enjoyed before the grief. Make a list of things that brought you joy in the past. Choose one each week. They can be simple things like reading a book or walking in the park. Make a conscious effort to do something that makes you smile.

Listen to Worship Music. Worship music can change your heart. Find songs and artists whose music touches your soul. Praise can be a sacrifice when your heart is wounded. Let Him heal you through your praise. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15 NIV

Be Thankful. When we are in the darkness, it is so difficult to find reasons to be thankful. Discipline your mind to find the good things in your life. Make a gratitude list. Each day, make a list of things for which you are thankful.

Keep Serving. Grief can be all-consuming. We may need to step back from serving for a while, but I encourage you to continue to look for ways to serve the Lord and others, even in your pain. There is healing in this sacrifice, as well.

Look to Heaven. As God’s beloved children, we know that our time on earth is short. We have a promise that joy is coming. Focusing on the future, which is full of joy, helps us to find joy on the journey as well. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Melissa heiland
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51OIS3iTClL._SX306_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Have you ever found joy in suffering? Please share!

Two Taxis and the Holy Spirit

by Crystal Bowman

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV.

I was beyond excited to attend the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) conference this year. I was unable to attend for the past two years, so this was a long-awaited trip. My early morning flight was delayed, but I made my connection. When I landed in St. Louis, I saw two AWSA gals and we agreed to share a cab. My friends pulled their luggage from the carousel while I waited for mine to appear. But it didn’t. As the noisy carousel made a few more laps with some unclaimed bags, it still hadn’t appeared.

 I told my friends to leave, and I’d catch up with them later. The hotel and convention center were not far from the airport, so it wouldn’t cost much for a solo ride. After an hour, my suitcase showed up, and I rolled my luggage to the nearest taxicab. When a kind man jumped out to assist with my cumbersome bags, I told him where I needed to go, and soon we were on our way. Though hard to understand, the driver initiated a wonderful conversation about God. I smiled and nodded in agreement. The ride took longer than expected, but we finally arrived at the hotel and convention center. After paying a hefty fare and generous tip, I rolled my bags to the reception counter in the lobby.

“My name is Crystal Bowman and I’m here to check in,” I said with a tired smile. The hotel clerk scanned the computer for my name but couldn’t find it. “I’m so sorry, Dear, but you’re at the wrong hotel. You need to be at our hotel near the airport. I’ll call a cab.” My heart caught in my throat. I was weary from traveling, had just spent more money than I wanted to, and I was in the wrong place!           

 The next taxi arrived, and a kind gentleman jumped out to help with my bags. As soon as we were on the expressway, he began a wonderful conversation about God. I smiled and nodded in agreement. After a thirty-minute ride, we arrived at the correct hotel. I paid an even heftier fare and another tip. Since this was way more money than I intended to spend on cab rides, I was terribly upset and frustrated. My heart pounded and my head hurt.

 Once inside my room, I unpacked a few things, then lay down to relax. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Anger and frustration consumed me. Then the Holy Spirit put some thoughts into my head. (I know myself and these thoughts were not my thoughts): These cab drivers belong to Me. They need the money more than you do. They haven’t worked in more than a year, so I used you to provide for them.

When we look at Scripture, we can see how God provides in unusual ways. Hagar had to leave home with her young son, Ishmael, and they soon ran out of water. In her hopelessness, she placed Ishmael under a bush to die. But God heard cries and provided a well in the middle of the wilderness. When the Israelites were hungry in the desert, God rained manna from heaven in the morning and sent quail in the evening. When Elijah needed a time of rest, God directed him to a place where he could drink from a brook and sent ravens to bring him food twice a day.

 When I let those thoughts sink in, my emotions did a 180-degree turn. Peace and joy replaced anger and frustration. I was excited again—not only for the conference to begin, but because God used me to provide a little something extra for two cab drivers who loved Him.

One final thought occurred to me as I processed that experience: It’s God’s money and not mine. He provided for the cab drivers, and He will also provide for me.  

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Has God provided for you in unexpected ways?

The Best Exchange

by Nancy Kay Grace

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. Psalm 30:11 NASB

Have you ever made a worthwhile exchange?

Exchanges happen every day. Consignment stores are popular, where an agreement is made between a seller and buyer, exchanging gently used items for money upon sale. One person eliminates the unwanted item in exchange for money. 

As we grow in our Christian faith, the Holy Spirit helps us eliminate the old way of thinking in exchange for a new way, reflecting God’s love.  Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV) instructs us to remove from our minds the lies that contaminate our souls and exchange them for the new self that reflects the Lord: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Simply put, the old way is sin; the new way is living in Christ.

Consider these thoughts to eliminate and exchange through the transformation of the Lord:

  • The old way thought “I am not worth anything,” but the new way believes in being treasured to God.
  • The old way condemns through whispering the lie “I am not acceptable to anyone.” The new way recalls acceptance by God.
  • The old way of thinking believes “there is nothing beautiful about me.” The new way remembers being made in the image of God.
  • The old way shames with “I can’t be forgiven for my past.” The new way accepts the grace of forgiveness from God. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) we read about the powerful exchange from old to new. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away and the new has come.”

This last verse opened my heart to realize I needed to exchange my sinful self to be a new creation in Christ. The words brought hope to my soul. The Lord would eliminate the lies of low self-worth in exchange for the abundant life of faith. A beautiful exchange occurred, transforming my heart from despair to hope in Jesus Christ.

We lay aside the former ways to be clothed in the righteousness of God. These new garments are not temporarily ours on consignment, but a new wardrobe forever.

Have you come to the Lord to eliminate the old way and exchange it for a new heart? It’s the best exchange!

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is thankful for the gift of peace in the face of turmoil. She is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives.  

Visit https://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly Grace Notes devotional newsletter. You can also connect with Nancy on Facebook or Instagram.

Join the conversation: What exchange that God has made for you do you value the most?

When the Bough Breaks

by Sandi Banks

C-r-r-r-a-c-k! The eerie sound startled us awake at midnight. From our window upstairs, we watched in horror as our 45-foot-tall Bradford pear tree crashed to the ground—splayed, as if by a giant pie slicer, by the weight of ice from a sudden storm.

Stunned, we silently surveyed the scene from above, as our neighbors ran out to witness the spectacle. That stately tree was all any of us had ever known in the front yard. Over the years it had provided welcome shade, a sanctuary for birds, and a stunning array of seasonal colors and beauty. Now its ice-laden limbs lay in a heap on the gray, barren ground.

Stillness hung in the air for a time. Then my father’s soft words dispelled the darkness of our world, and ushered in a ray of glorious light.

Four words, simple but profound: We’ll plant fruit trees.

Ah, yes. We’ll plant fruit trees.

I don’t know your story. You may be weathering a storm much like this one, where your world has crashed down around you and, like a giant tree, your life lies shattered and crumpled: Someone you had known and loved…something that had brought you joy, fulfillment, shelter, provision or hope…something or someone you thought would always be there…now gone. And you’re devastated. You ask heart-wrenching questions like, What do I do with my pain? Can anything good come from this? Will I ever be whole again?

We don’t know about our tomorrows. But our Heavenly Father knows. And in that desperate moment when it seems we are without hope, He wraps His comforting arms around us and whispers to our hearts: O beloved. We’ll plant fruit trees.

And we will, as we lean on Him and let Him lead us through the storm. He is in the business of rebuilding, of “bringing beauty from ashes…turning our mourning into dancing…restoring what was lost.”  (See Isaiah 61:3; Psalm 30:11; Isaiah 58:11)

And in the process, we learn who He is, and who we are in Him.

Remember, He is the King of Kings; we are His daughters. Royal Princesses! He longs to bring hope to our hearts—even joy.

The next time you feel anxious, overwhelmed or burdened by the weight of a life storm, picture your loving heavenly Father caring for you: with one hand under you, holding you, sustaining you… and His other hand over you, protecting you, covering you, as you nestle in and prepare your heart for something special.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7 HB

 This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: As a published author, international traveler, and inspirational storyteller, Sandi delights in pointing people to Christ, by weaving insights and hope from His Word into her stories—her struggles, adventures, and humorous misadventures—through forty countries and forty-plus years of life. She inspires others to mine the Bible’s treasures for themselves, and fall in love with Jesus. (Stop by for a visit, at http://www.sandibanks.com)

Join the conversation: Are you in a storm right now? To what hope are you clinging?

Breathtaking Climb to the Top

by Melissa Henderson

The appointment with my new spine doctor had been scheduled the previous day. Arriving at the building, I noticed an elevator and stairs to reach the office on the third floor. Choosing to take a healthier option, I walked to the stairs and began the climb. I was proud of myself for making a good decision for my body and heart.

As I was already running behind for the appointment, I picked up the pace and climbed the stairs a bit quicker than usual. First flight of steps, then, the second, and finally the third. By the time I reached the door to the medical office, I was out of breath. A thin layer of sweat formed on my forehead.

Trying to gain my composure and hopefully, not breathing too heavily, I approached the check-in counter. A lady behind the plexiglass asked for my name and insurance information. My mind was racing. Heart pounding, breathing in and out quickly, I tried to calm myself and provide the items requested.

All was good. Check in complete. Finding a seat in the waiting room, I began taking deep breaths in and out in hopes of relaxing. I prayed and asked God to calm my mind and body.

Only a few moments until a door opened and my name was called.

“Let’s take your blood pressure first.” The friendly nurse pointed to a chair where I could sit.

The blood pressure cuff was placed on my arm. In a short time, the nurse asked, “Are you okay? Your numbers are high today. Are you on any blood pressure medications?”

My response began with a laugh. “No. My pressure is always great. But, I must share that I just walked up those three flights of stairs.” We both laughed and agreed the pressure numbers were most likely due to my climb. The nurse suggested we try again after the visit with the doctor.

Sitting in the room, I began reflecting on my breathtaking exertion. I had put my heart into each step in anticipation of reaching the top.

How often do I put that kind of energy and dedication into sharing the love of Christ? Have there been opportunities to share the good news with joy, stopped by my decision to wait until another time? Have I ever been so enthusiastic that my breathing became rapid with excitement and my heart raced with anticipation of sharing His love? Have there been moments when I couldn’t get His message out fast enough?

Today and every day, I want to be ready to share the love of Christ. In Acts, just as Jesus was about to ascend up to heaven, He gave the apostles their assignment: “…You shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8b NASB). A witness is someone that has personally experienced something. All we need to do is tell what Jesus has personally done for us. Accepted us just as we were. Paid for our sin with His life. All an expression of His great love. All done in grace.

What might feel awkward to us may just change the course of someone’s life.

The next time I visit that doctor’s office, I plan to climb the stairs again, only maybe a little slower. I will be ready to share the love of Christ no matter where I go.

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Melissa Henderson
Licky the Lizard by [Melissa Henderson, Mark Brayer]

About the author: Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and at http://www.melissaghenderson.com

Join the conversation: What motivates you to share the good news about Jesus?

DONE

by Tammy Whitehurst

There comes a time when we are done. Done with crying. Done with anger. Done with bitterness. We are done. Flat out…..DONE.

We cannot afford to waste our days. Life is short. Spinning our wheels and waking up every day to a new day, but never in a new way must cease.

Yes, the unthinkable happened. It was understandable to grieve. To cry. To weep and wail. I have walked in those shoes and slid on the slippery slope of falling flat on my face.

Finally, one day I walked the path of giving the situation to God because I could not handle it anymore. My heart and flesh cried out for God to rescue me from the heartbreak and broken relationship.

The moment we surrender it all, He can take control and begin to work things out like we never imagined. We may never understand why something happened, but we can understand that we have a MESSiah for every single one of life’s messes, for every heartbreak, and every time we have felt like we were finished. He will cover us in peace when we seek His face.

Here is what I had to learn. Time flies and it does not return. Years pass and we never get them back. Enough precious time has been wasted.

We cannot wait all of our lives for something that might never happen. We can prevail over setbacks and emotional pain. We can move past the disbelief. The distress.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I do know this: God has a plan to bring you above water again. You will not drown when He is the rescuer. It might not be what you expected, but it can be more than you ever imagined.

Begin to notice the sunsets again, the beauty of a sunrise, the sound of laughter, the chirping of birds and the fragrance of a rose. Hold up the white flag of surrender and worship while you wait for God to unravel the tangled up mess. Surrender all the pain and live life again.

It’s past time to seek the sunshine, plan the vacation, a day with friends, or a trip to the coffee shop. Open the doors once again and invite people for dinner. Don’t just seize those moments, squeeze those moments!

If we wait for the perfect time to begin living again, we might wait so long we run out of time. It is never too late for a new beginning.

Battered and wounded troops—it’s way past time–let’s roll. Forward March!

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: As an author, blogger, and full time speaker, Tammy encourages and challenges audiences to live life kicked up a notch. She is the co-owner of the Christian Communicators Conference. She struggles like the rest of us with dust, dog hair, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles. Find out more at TammyWhitehurst.com, or on Facebook and YouTube.

Join the conversation: Are you DONE?

The Way Everlasting

by Christina Rose

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

God speaks to us through His Word; the more we study it the more likely we are to recognize and obey His voice. We can pray to release any anxious thoughts that might be interfering with receiving His words. We can also pray to receive more wisdom from the written Word and to trust in what we hear.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 NIV

When Moses led the Israelites to freedom they reached the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit. Moses listened for God who told him to raise his staff over the Red Sea which then parted allowing the Israelites to cross. Once they were safely through, God then told Moses to again raise his staff so that the walls of the sea would descend upon the advancing Egyptians thus destroying them.

It was Joshua’s listening to God’s instructions that allowed the walls of Jericho to fall and the city to be conquered for God’s glory.  It was Noah’s listening to God’s instructions on how to build the ark that saved him, his family and the animals of the earth from destruction. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).

 During a very challenging time when sleep escaped me, I cried out, “God, I can’t sleep!”  I heard God answer me, “Talk to me, I never sleep.” My worries dissolved as I poured out my troubles, listened for answers and journaled into my notebook. “He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping” (Psalm 121:3-4 TLB).

My eyes fell on a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers as I entered the market, but when I reached for them, I heard, “No, buy pink roses.” This made no sense to me, so I dismissed it and put the sunflowers in my cart.  I then heard, “Your flowers are dead, buy pink roses.”  Strangely enough my sunflower bouquet seemed to be wilting and turning brown right in front of me.  Again, the words “pink roses, pink roses,” kept overwhelming me until at last I returned the sunflowers and bought the pink roses.

Michelle was entering the market as I was leaving.  Her eyes fell on the pink roses and she collapsed in heart wrenching sobs. “Michelle, what’s wrong?” I asked.  She answered, “Today is the anniversary of Caroline’s death. I’ve been up all night praying that God would send me a sign to show me that Caroline is okay and that He hears me.  When Caroline died, everyone sent me pink roses and my house was filled with them. Pink roses remind me of her. They remind me of all the people who cared about us.  Now seeing your pink roses makes me think that God hears me and cares.” 

Michelle’s daughter Caroline was about to enter 3rd grade with my daughter a few years ago when she was carried away by a sleeper wave and drowned. She was a beautiful little blond girl full of joy and smiles who followed her mom everywhere. “Michelle, I wasn’t going to buy these pink roses, but I had such a strong feeling that I must buy them. I know God was the one guiding me to buy these for you.” I handed her the pink roses, and we hugged some more.  When we ask God to know our hearts and commit our ways to Him, He will lead us in the way everlasting.

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 13:43 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made a choice clear for you? What happened? Please share!

Our Words Matter

by Marilyn Turk

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. “You’ve probably heard that old adage before. But it’s not true. Words can hurt, perhaps even more than sticks and stones. Bones can usually mend in a matter of weeks, but we can remember hurtful words for years.

Words have power for good or bad. Words can inspire or destroy. They can encourage or tear down. They can bless or curse. They can be instruments of war or of peace. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9 NIV).

The Bible refers to our words, tongue, and mouth over a thousand times, so they must be important to God. We should consider the impact of our words.

Words Can Harm

In the Ten Commandments, we are told to be careful with our words.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7 NIV).

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 NIV).

But there are other ways we can misuse words. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8 NIV). Gossip is defined as sharing information that shouldn’t be shared, whether it’s true or not. How easy it is to get caught up in gossip!

Words can make others angry. Just look at today’s world, and you see evidence of that truth. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).

How many times could situations and relationships be different if someone hadn’t said something offensive to another?

Words Can Benefit

Our words can and should be used for good. Our words can comfort, calm, heal hurts, and encourage others.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV).

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Who wouldn’t prefer to be around someone whose words are gracious, kind, and encouraging?

How does one build others up according to their needs? You can encourage them. The word ‘encouragement’ means “to put courage into.” Many years ago, I ran in a 10k Fourth of July road race. Not being a consistent runner, I was tempted to stop and rest several times during the race. But people were lined up on each side of the road, cheering and encouraging the runners on. Their words like “you can do it,” gave me the courage to continue.

Would you rather hear praise or criticism? Most people prefer praise. Research has shown that it takes five positive comments to counteract one negative one.

Written words can provide the same effect, like when the church of Antioch received a letter from the church in Jerusalem. “The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message” (Acts 15:31 NIV). Don’t you like to get good mail? I do.

To help you use your words wisely, try praying this verse every day:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV

About the author: Award-winning author Marilyn Turk writes historical and contemporary fiction flavored with suspense and romance. Marilyn also writes devotions for Daily Guideposts. She and her husband are lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over 100 lighthouses and also served as volunteer lighthouse caretakers at Little River Light off the coast of Maine.

When not writing or visiting lighthouses, Marilyn enjoys walking, boating, fishing, gardening, tennis, playing with grandkids and her golden retriever Dolly.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Faith, Hope and Love, Word Weavers International, and the United States Lighthouse Society. You can find more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Join the conversation: What will you do with your words today?

When You Need a Good Night’s Sleep

by Edie Melson

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV

I rolled over, repositioned my pillow and tried to will sleep to come. But my mind was my enemy. The thoughts crowding my brain circled like vultures, diving with sharp claws and ripping away the fabric of sleep. The worst thing was that I couldn’t pinpoint the exact source of my insomnia. There were lots of reasons for me to be stressed, but no single one appeared to be the ultimate culprit. 

Finally I gave up, grabbed my Bible and settled into the recliner downstairs where my tossing and turning wouldn’t disturb my husband’s rest. I thumbed through the book of Psalms—my go-to place when I’m searching for a cure—and that’s when I found this verse highlighted. 

In the past I’d used it to pray while our son was away on deployment. That night I initially dismissed it as not really relevant to my current situation and continued to skim through Scripture. When those words wouldn’t leave my mind, I turned back. 

Could this passage be more pertinent than I’d first thought? Two words stood out: peace and safety. Peace was definitely something I needed. Safety, however, didn’t seem to fit my struggle. I couldn’t pinpoint any specific fears. I prayed, asking God to share His insight.

What He answered has stayed with me. He pointed out that I really was afraid—of many things. I was worried about not measuring up, not getting everything done, not being able to continue at my current speed of life. As each fear exploded into my mind, it felt like God whispered His provision over it. As He spoke, that particular worry vanished. I went through the entire list and when my mind was quiet, I found myself ready for sleep.

I learned that when I let my fears take up residence in my mind, they grow and multiply, pushing out the peace of God

Taken from Soul Care When You’re Weary, Bold Vision Books.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41A8ARHsOoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on http://www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you cannot sleep?