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words

My brother-in-law, Wayne, was a “people person.” He enjoyed being with people and making them laugh. People also enjoyed being with him too, because he always brought smiles and encouragement wherever he went.

Wayne also had some unusual habits. One was brushing his tongue repeatedly. During a conversation he would often say, “Excuse me, please” and walk away. After a few moments he would return and begin the conversation precisely where it had ended. People were puzzled and did not feel comfortable asking where he went or what he did.

Finally, the suspense got the best of one of his friends and he asked, “Wayne, why do you walk off in the middle of a conversation? Where do you go and what do you do?”

“Oh,” he replied with a smile. “I go to the bathroom and brush my tongue. The tongue, you know, has more germs than our teeth, and if not brushed carefully and repeatedly, can cause a stink.” But, the story of the “tongue” does not end there.

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit,” wrote Solomon. I am rather certain that each of us have experienced both parts of that verse. We all need words of encouragement and healing from hearts that are caring and kind. But, a deceitful tongue coupled with intent to harm others, does indeed “squeeze” the life from a person - often when a person’s “spirit” is threatened. We need to be “healers,” not harmers!

Prayer: Help us, Lord, to speak words of hope, help and healing from hearts that are clean, kind and caring. May we bless others with the words of Your hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4

Proverbs 15 contains fifteen references to the “tongue.” Between two of the references, verses two and four, we come across another word that is important in the process of communication: “eyes.” Although we do not ordinarily think of the eyes as part of the communication process, but in this verse it is: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

One of the words we use to describe the nature of God is “omniscient.” It means that God is “all knowing, all wise, and all seeing.” Used in this verse, “the eyes of the Lord,” implies that God “sees” what we say. Scripture, very clearly and frequently, teaches us that “God knows everything.” His Word emphasizes this fact. So, we need not wonder if He can actually “see what we say.”

It is almost frightening to reflect on “keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Keeping watch made me think of the stories my brother and sisters often told me: “Be careful! Mom has eyes in the back of her head.” In other words, her face may be looking in one direction, but that does not mean she cannot see what is going on when she is not looking.

The author of Hebrews reminds us that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

We must never fool ourselves because we are His children and expect favors if we are disobedient to His Word. Everyone is accountable to Him for everything and anything!

Prayer: Lord, may we be mindful that You watch us closely and do our best to please You. Empower us to be obedient to Your Word and expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. Proverbs 15:3

“Try it! I promise you it will work,” said Mrs. Ron.

“No, it won’t. They’ll just yell louder and louder,” I responded with certainty.
“How do you know? Have you ever tried it? If you did try it, what happened? Did the shouting stop?” she asked.

“I don’t know because I’ve never had anyone tell me that before,” I replied as I gave up. I knew that she had an advantage over me from her years of experience as a teacher.

Her theory was simple and seemed senseless. “When children, either individually or in a group, raise their voices, if you speak in a hushed tone, they will quiet down. They want to hear what you are saying. Their curiosity will get the best of them,” she explained.

After thinking about it, I decided to follow her recommendation since nothing I tried had worked. To my surprise, it worked. And it does make sense, when you think about it.

Solomon may not have known much about anger management, but he gave some great advice when he wrote, “A soft gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We see that all too often when mobs gather to protest. Both sides believe they can gain the advantage with volume.

“A harsh word” does not suggest that a person is using words that are irrational or abrasive - though they may be part of the “conversation.” Rather, it refers to one who intends to use words to destroy another by design. We are once again reminded of the power of the tongue! Softness can represent power if we follow the Word and teachings of Scripture.

Prayer: Lord, how wonderful is Your Word that informs us of the power of our words. May we always speak gently and confidently as we follow Your teachings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

"Loose Lips Sink Ships" was a widely quoted slogan during World War II. It was part of the US Office of Information’s attempt to limit the possibility of people inadvertently giving useful information to enemy spies. It was one of the several slogans that came under the campaign’s basic message "Careless Talk Costs Lives.” While our talk may not “cost lives” careless words are costly, often harmful, and can cause serious problems.

Years ago, Solomon realized this and said, “Those who guard their lips guard their lives.” It is like placing a boundary around what we want people to know or think about us. Being careful is wise because we will not have to try to explain what we mean if we express an unclear thought or idea. We will not have to apologize or make amends or be fearful for things we might have said that could stain someone’s reputation if we speak unkindly. In fact, later in Proverbs, Solomon said that our “tongues have the power of life and death.”

There is also the person who “speaks rashly.” This person speaks without taking time to think or makes statements that are untrue, intending to hurt, harm, destroy, or take advantage of others. Many of us have endured - even struggled to survive - false stories or outright lies about us as others intended to damage or destroy us. We have been left fearful and unable to trust others because of their unfair words.

But we are to take heart. Our God is a fair and just God and He will, in His own time, make all things right. Those who “speak rashly will come to ruin.”

Prayer: Father, we are grateful that You love us, understand us, and know “who we are.” May we never harm others. May we bring them Your healing and hope, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. Proverbs 13:3

We often hear of damage done by those who “speak before they think.” Their damage is harmful, “piercing like a sword,” leaving broken hearts, troubled minds and sleepless nights as a result. I know of no one who has not been damaged, in one way or another, by careless words from calloused hearts.

Unfortunately, for some, speaking harshly is a way of life. Kindness does not reside within them.

People who destroy others with their words are not new. Solomon recognized the pain they caused others when he wrote, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wide brings healing.”

“Reckless words” are words that come from resentful hearts and minds filled with evil thoughts. For whatever is in our hearts is there because we gave it a home. “Out of the abundance…” If it’s in there, we allow it to be there because we do not realize the damage it does to ourselves and others. And, it will remain there until we ask God, in humility and sincerity, to remove the rage.

And when He does, we can do great things for those hurt by the “reckless words” of others: we can bring them His healing. Imagine this wonderful opportunity that is available to us to take the healing grace of God to those who have been harmed by hatred and wounded by words.

“The tongue of the wise brings healing!” How? Heed what Paul said: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” – God’s love through us.

Prayer: From our own experience, Father, we know the pain of “reckless words.” Help us to realize the power of our words and use them to help and heal others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wide brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

“What’s a nanosecond, Keller?” I asked my ten-year-old grandson.
“Papa, everyone knows what a nanosecond is,” he replied with a wry smile across his lips as if teasing me.
“Well, not quite everyone. If I knew, I wouldn’t ask.” I felt like I needed to go back to school. Immediately!
“It means one, one billionth of a second. It’s used to measure the speed of light and other stuff,” he replied casually. Not having any need to measure the speed of light, I thought it was a good time to end the conversation. I realized how little I knew about some things.
But there is one thing I do know without any doubt: God took great care to choose the exact words He needed to explain His message of redemption. No second guessing about what He wanted us to understand. No hidden meanings for a special class of people. Nothing is left to the imagination that could cause us to make an error in knowing God’s message or direction for our lives.
This is very obvious in Proverbs 1:2-4. God, through Solomon, let us know that there is a right way and a wrong way to “live life.” Each of us has choices to make about the way we will live: either a life of righteousness with God’s power that will honor and glorify Him or a life that is sinful, self-centered and leads to our death and damages others.
Ten of the approximately forty words in Proverbs 1:2-4 provide different aspects on ways to understand, see and apply God’s wisdom for daily, God-centered, living. Check them out!
God leaves nothing to “chance.” He wants us to succeed!
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the “God is My Helper” successful living guide-book – the Book of Proverbs. May we follow it carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:2-4 For gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. 
Few of us enjoy going to a dentist. The first words we usually hear are, "Open your mouth wide, please." Most of us from our previous experiences with dentists would rather keep our mouths shut.
When the Psalms were written there were different ways to show favors to individuals. For example, if a king wanted to extend a favor to a guest he would sometimes say, "Open your mouth wide," and then fill it with gems or sweets.
Our King said to us in Psalm 81, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!" What an unusual statement. Yet, when we think of it, our King's love is limitless and His might is measureless and His knowledge of our needs is ever on His mind!
What an encouragement to pray. When we pray we open our mouths and express our needs and desires to God. If, when we pray, we are earnest and expect God to hear us and if we have been obedient to His teachings and if in our prayers we are asking Him to bless our requests in a way that will honor Him, surely He will respond positively to our requests.
God is able and anxious to meet our every need. If we have a loved one who has not accepted His grace, or if we have a need for food on our tables, or if we have a spouse or parent or child who is suffering with a disease that some say is incurable – are all gifts He is willing to grant us. We most never forget that God is able and anxious to hear us and help us if we "open our mouths wide in prayer."
Prayer: Give us faith, Heavenly Father, to accept Your Word as "truth we can believe in" whenever we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 81:10b Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
JoAnn was watching her grandfather mulch the soil around his smiling pansies. “PaPa,” she asked, “may I please have the yellow one with a purple face?” “Of course, my dear,” he said, handing her a flower with a stem that was once near the center of the plant.
After carefully examining its intricate details she said, “Here, now take it back and put it where it was.”
“I can’t do that, my dear,” he replied. “It came from the heart of the plant and there is no way to put it back.”
Words are like that pansy. They come from the heart. Whatever we say or whatever anyone else says comes from the heart and words once spoken can never be returned to their source. Our words either help or harm, do good or cause damage, build up or tear down, bring out the best in people or make them fearful to act.
How wise of David to want his words and thoughts to be pleasing to God. God wants us to love Him, worship Him, serve Him and please Him. But if we do not know Him we will never be able to honor Him. And we cannot know Him unless we study His Word and allow its message to penetrate our minds.
Then, as we think Godly thoughts we will speak Godly words and do Godly deeds that come from Godly hearts and our lives will be pleasing to Him. Whatever is in our heart will eventually come out in our words and deeds.
Prayer: We ask, Father, for hearts that are filled with Your Word and lives that are pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Years ago, while serving as a Navy chaplain, I was ordered to “park my car” in a specially designated area and stand beside it. I was rather amazed that a chaplain and an officer would be subjected to such scrutiny. I had my uniform on with the proper “symbols” to announce my status. Why I, of all people, was being searched, I asked. Looking at me as he would have looked at any other person, he said in a quiet, yet stern voice, “Just a routine matter, Sir.” Only later was I told that a critical item was missing from the armory. He was ordered to carefully guard against anything leaving the installation without the commanding officer’s approval.
David went to God with an unusual request: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep a watch over the door of my lips.” David knew that he might say something that could be dangerous and destructive to others. But he had a solution: Ask God for a guard to control his speech. He did not want any evil words to exit his mouth that could harm others. No doubt he had been harmed by the words of others and knew how painful harmful words could be.
Jesus said, “Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean...for from within, out of a man’s heart, come evil thoughts (that) make a man ‘unclean.’” Jesus knew how to stop “harmful words and deeds.” Keep them away from me and me away from them.
David was aware of this. So, he also asked God for something else that was very important: “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil.” Why? Evil in - evil out.
Prayer: Lord, Your advice is so practical and purposeful. May it “take over” our hearts and keep us from evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Thomas Edison is recognized as being one of the greatest inventors who ever lived. He is credited with over 1,200 inventions, including the light bulb and the first “talking machine.” He was the founder of General Electric and greatly influenced the quality of life for everyone.
Edison was one who was known to be very conscious of the value of time. On one occasion the person introducing him as a featured speaker at a large gathering did not know when to end his remarks. He spoke endlessly of his creative genius, his ability to see things others did not see and the great future for his “talking machine.”
When he finally stopped talking, Edison stood up and said, “Thank you for your kind words. But I must make a correction. God invented the talking machine. I only invented the first one that can be shut off.”
“Let your conversation be gracious and effective,” said Paul, “so that you will have the right answer for everyone.” A wise warning for Christians who want to witness the grace of God in a way that will draw others to Christ.
We Christians are ineffective if we act offensive and arrogant. We must always be gracious and humble if we want others to listen to and accept God’s message of love, salvation and hope.
Prayer: We pray, Father, that the “grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” will always be obvious in our speech and conduct as we represent You to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
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