LET PEACE RULE

I have been working on memorizing Colossians 3:12-17. Every morning during my devotions I have read and repeated these verses. The other day I was going over these verses for probably the 100th time and one word in verse 15 jumped out at me. That word was “let”. I am sure that the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that in order to have His peace we had to LET him work.

We can beg and plead with God to give us peace; but, when we insist on rerunning in our minds all the possibilities of things that could go wrong and all the things that have gone wrong in the past we will not have peace.  No where in scripture does God promise to zap us with peace just because we asked for it.  In fact Psalm 34:14 and I Peter 3:11 tell us that we are to “seek peace and pursue it.”  Doesn’t that sound like we are responsible for working toward peace of mind?

It is so easy to ask God to give us peace of mind then finish praying and go right back to worrying about all the little details that we can’t seem to control.  Lately I have been convicted through my reading that worry is a sin and just like any sin we must learn to confess it and ask the Lord to help us overcome this sin.  It is up to us to control where our thoughts go.  The Bible tells us that we are the sum total of what we concentrate on (Proverbs 23:7).  Our Heavenly Father even gives us a list of what we should allow our minds to dwell on in Philippians 4:8.  When we start to panic or worry we should ask ourselves, “Is this true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute?”.  These are the things that we should allow our minds to dwell on.  Whatever will bring praise and glory to God will result in the peace that He promises us in His word.

Let me encourage you to ask the Lord to help you to overcome the temptation of the devil to repeat all your worries throughout the day.  Instead make a list of all those things that are good and lovely in your life and start repeating them to yourself when you are tempted to worry over something that you can’t control anyway.  I want to “LET” God give me peace.  Do you?

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THREE SCORE YEARS

Originally Published 12/22/12

On December 10, 2012 I reached the age of 60.  I have never cared about age, it was only a number. But turning 60 does make me stop and think about how the time has flown and what I have accomplished with my life.  When I was a teenager I remember hearing older people talk about how time flies.  At the time that seemed to be such a dumb statement!  Time did not fly, it crawled.  I couldn’t wait to finish school, have a career and get married yet it seemed like it would be an eternity for any of that to happen. 🙂   Today I feel like I have blinked a few times and gained 4 decades!  How did that happen?

The Bible tells us in James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.”  When we are young that verse does not make alot of sense.  Our days seem to drag like a child waiting for Christmas morning.  Those of you that have passed 5 decades or more understand that you look back and wonder where all the time has gone.

Our Creator does not tell us how many years He has given us to work for Him on this earth.  What He does tell us is that life is brief and that we should use each minute that we are awake profitably.  God tells us in Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5 that we should be redeeming or making the best use of our time.  When we think of these commands it should inspire us to look at our schedule and ask ourselves where our priorities are.

Has your life been spent serving the Lord?  When you look at your accomplishments can you honestly say that you have attempted to put God first in your schedule?  December is a great month to ask this question because so many of us in America get so caught up in the gift buying & giving, the decorating, the partying, and the family rituals that we forget that Christmas is supposed to be about God coming to earth in the form of a child to save us from our sins.  How does your December schedule look?  Have you put Christ first and foremost or is he last on the list?

Let me challenge you, wherever you are in your life cycle, to look at your remaining years and make a commitment.  Ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to spend your time that it might be redeemed for all eternity.

SEASONED WITH SALT

There is an old hymn that I have loved since my childhood entitled “Make me a Blessing”. The author of that song talks about the many that are weary and sad and prays that God will allow him to be a blessing to those that need encouragement and help. That should be the goal of any Christian that at the end of our lives others would say “She was such a blessing to me.”

Our actions can be a blessing to others when we do something tangible to ease their burden. More often than not it is our words that either encourage or discourage others. Women are known for their multitude of words that they use during a day. The question is are your words improving the lives of others or hindering them from being saved or growing in the Lord?

The Bible is full of admonitions and guidance on how we use our words. Over and over God reminds us that words can hurt or heal. What comes out of our mouth can either inspire others or discourage and hinder them. Simply put, we can control what we say and become known as someone that makes a difference by always encouraging others. I believe the problem is that we make excuses for what we say and how we say it. It is so much easier to say “That’s just the way I am, I can’t help it.” We blame our genetics, upbringing, personality or hormones instead of taking responsibility for our actions and admitting it is sin. I am not suggesting that you try to become like someone else. God made you the way you are and your basic personality does not need to change. But, all of us can use improvement. If it were not sinful to hurt others with our words then our creator would not have put so much emphasis on it in His Holy Word. In other words, accept the personality that God has given you and improve on it. There will always be room for improvement until the day we die and are made perfect in Heaven.

We read in Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how to answer every man. This is a simple formula for what should come out of our mouths on a daily basis. Note that Paul uses the word always. That doesn’t mean that there are times when we can just say what we want and let the chips fall where they may. It seems so convenient when we have said something we shouldn’t to use the excuse that we are not feeling good or we are tired. I have told people, “If I say anything wrong today, just ignore it since I didn’t get enough sleep last night”. Lack of sleep does not give us a license to say whatever we want to. When we know we are not feeling our best we should pray and ask God to help us control our mouths. On bad days, it would be wise to remember the old saying “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all”. Proverbs 10:19 instructs us In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

There will be days when the best thing we can say is nothing. The God who created us and gave us the ability to communicate knew that there would be times when silence was best. He inspired Solomon to write in Proverbs 17:27-28 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

I am not advocating giving your husband or others the silent treatment just because they made you mad. What I am saying is that when we know we are not feeling our best and the possibility of saying the wrong thing is very prevalent, we need to pray before we speak. Many times when I pause and pray before I let the words fly, God will give me just the right words to say without hurting the other person and leaving me in a position where I have to go back and apologize. We need to learn to say with the psalmist Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14.

Notice in the above verse that David not only asks for God to guide his words but also his meditation. If we will saturate our minds with the Word of God and meditate on the right things, then we will have the right words to say even in times of stress. The Bible spells out this principle in Matthew 12:34-36 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speakethA good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

These verses state very clearly that we will give an account to God someday for every word that comes out of our mouth. Therefore, it seems to me that we need to be begging God to help us control our words and make each one count for eternity. We use thousands of words on a daily basis. How many of them improve the lives of others and glorify the Lord?

The verse from Colossians that was quoted above says that our speech should be seasoned with salt. What does salt do for our food? It makes it taste better. If you have ever forgotten to put the salt in a recipe, it doesn’t take more than one bite for you to identify the fact that this food is missing something! It is amazing how many things we use salt in and what a difference it makes to the taste of those items.

If our speech is to be seasoned with salt, then the words we use should improve the message we want to give to others. We can do that by using pleasant, appropriate, gracious and comforting words.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. When we use words that are pleasant and kind it is the same as enjoying a rich sweet dessert—just what is needed to give us a lift in the middle of a rough day. This verse even says that it can help our health. This truly is good medical advice. Studies have shown that people with a positive attitude heal faster than those that always see the dark side of life or their glass is half empty.

I know that when someone takes the time to give me a compliment, it makes my day. Our society has become so busy and self-centered that we rarely take the time to notice others and their accomplishments. When you sit in church and enjoy the music or a special reading, make it a point to let that person know that it was a blessing to you. If the pastor’s sermon touches you, tell him. So often we only share our criticisms and never bother to let someone know when they did a great job.

You can accomplish so much with encouraging words. Next time you are shopping and a clerk does something special for you, take the time to thank them. If you have hired a service business to do a job in your home and are pleased with the results, pick up the phone or a pen and let them know how much you appreciate their work. Next time you need their services they will bend over backwards to help you.

When you want something done at home, how do you accomplish that? Do you issue commands and gripe and complain until the task is done? Does it work or do you end up doing it yourself because your children or husband never get it finished? Maybe what they need is encouragement. Next time you want junior to clean his room do your best to mention something positive. Try praising him for the one corner that does look good or the fact that he remembered to hang up his coat. Finding something to praise may take real creativity at times but keep at it and you may discover a whole new level of cooperation in your family. People love to do things for those who appreciate it. Think about it. Wouldn’t you prefer to work for a boss who thanks you and notices when you do something well?

The Lord says about the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness. If we are going to train our children or encourage others we must do it with kindness. We can accomplish so much more by encouraging people to success instead of constantly tearing them down.

A truly wise woman will learn when to say just the right thing at the appropriate time to make a difference in the lives of others. Proverbs 25:11 says A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Pictures could be translated settings or baskets. In other words, when we speak in the right way and are guided by the Holy Spirit, it is a beautiful thing like golden apples sitting in a silver basket. Learning when to speak and what to say is an art that takes practice and the guidance of the Lord.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3 verse 7b that there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. There are times when the Lord may lead you to say something to someone and you can’t imagine why. Pray about it and then speak to that person with love and praise surrounding any correction that you must give. People will always accept correction better if they know that you value them and are just trying to help them become more mature.

Remember, timing is important. Never discuss something difficult when you are tired or angry. Don’t bring up another’s faults in public. You would not like others to hear your shortcomings so don’t do it to someone else. Make sure that you are right with the Lord and following God’s guidance not your own agenda. Often, we can accomplish more by praying for that person and letting the Holy Spirit convict and change them. Sometimes our words just get in the way.

Some women seem to be born with the ability to say gracious words. Webster’s Dictionary defines gracious as having or showing kindness, courtesy, charm, etc. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 10:12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. To paraphrase that we could say that a wise woman will always speak with kindness and courtesy, putting others ahead of herself; but, a foolish woman will not be taken seriously.

Learning to be a gracious woman simply means that we use good manners. The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. This is simply learning to care more about other’s feelings and comfort than we do ourselves. We must learn that it is more important to be kind and lift others up than to be right. A truly gracious woman learns the art of deferring to another to make them feel important even if that other person is not doing it the way the gracious woman thinks it should be done. In the light of eternity it is far more important to help another person mature in the Lord than it is to have everything done your way.

There will be times when people need to hear comforting words. Learning what to say, how to say it and when is an art requiring God’s help. Isaiah 50:4 tells us The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. As sinful humans we cannot possibly invent the right words to say when someone is grieving. Only through the help of the Holy Spirit can we find just the right words to comfort a sorrowing friend.

I have found that the more trials God allows me to go through the more understanding I have for the problems and sorrows of others. Paul explained to the Christians at Corinth in II Corinthians 1:4 that one of the reasons God allows us to go through problems is so that we will be better at helping and comforting others that go through similar trials. It is so much easier to take advice from someone who tells you “I went through a problem just like this. Let me tell you how God helped me and gave me victory in that situation.”

Comforting others does not always include a multitude of words or spouting dozens of scripture verses. Sometimes it is as simple as giving a hug and saying “I am so sorry. You are in my prayers.”

Let’s commit ourselves to becoming women whose speech is always with grace, seasoned with salt. Memorize scripture and meditate on it praying that the Lord will guide your words. Our goal should be to become known as women whose speech is always pleasant, appropriate, gracious, and comforting. If we will work to develop these traits we will find that others gravitate to us because it is a joy and encouragement to be around us and reflect in the glory of the Lord that they see in us.

Do others hear God being Glorified in your words?