Words

Open Mouth

Have you have gotten caught up in the moment and said something you wish you hadn’t?  Are there times when you wish someone would put a bridle on your mouth and completely control your words?  Are there times when you wish you could sleep all day, hide, play computer games that take over your mind…? Then, guess what, that makes us all normal and still forgivable and lovable.  The real question is…How do we overcome these times?

First, we must realize we are as much an at fault sinner as the one we directed our words toward.  God knows that!  He knew when He breathed the Word.  The Bible is full of admonitions, both Old and New Testament, to guard our words.

Second, we must ask for forgiveness and then follow through with a change of heart.  I can get on my knees 50 times a day, some days 500, and ask for forgiveness but unless I decide, with God’s help, to change, the words are empty.

Then, and the hardest of all, is to ask for forgiveness from the one who has been harmed by the words.  Unlike God, they may choose to be unforgiving.  If that happens give it back to God and continue mending the relationship.

There is a delightful children’s song that says: Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down in love.  Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

Heavenly Father, creator of all words and languages, Lord of my life, forgive me for words hastily spoken.  Control my words (and thoughts) toward or about others.  Let my life be acceptable to You.  Make it so!

Matthew 6:9-13

New International Version (NIV)

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Tes...

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Testament manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew. Most likely originated in Egypt.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

For yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. 

I do wonder why that last line is so often left out.  It’s definitely the perfect closing and every 2nd grader who has learned to write a letter has learned it must have a greeting, a body, and a closing.  Ah, well, I digress…..

How often have you said these Words in worship or prayer or song and that’s just what they are..words?  We’re going to take a couple of minutes and just look at a couple of hidden gems in this beautiful prayer.

 Jesus did not say ‘Every time you pray you MUST use these words.  He said, “This, then, is how you should pray:” meaning this is a template, blueprint, or even an outline of how to do it.  We are first, to recognize God for who He is and what He does.  Next, we are to ask for what we need…food, forgiveness and freedom (from evil).  Lastly, we are to once again give God all glory and honor for who He is.

Notice, in verse 11, He tells us to ask for our DAILY bread.  Look a little closer.  If we reverse the two words they become…bread DAILY.  I don’t think this is a mistake, nor would it be out of line to look at the words in this way.  God wants us to ‘pray without ceasing’, asking Him, talking to Him, giving Him credit every hour of every day, day after day.

Let’s take a look at verse 12.  The word debts can be transliterated sins.  Let’s think this through.  Here’s another verse that when reversed adds  more understanding.  What if we say it like this.  “As (in the same way) I forgive others, Father, forgive me.”  Can you imagine the change in our hearts if we thought about that when we say forgive me.  I don’t want to forgive the cruelty shown me by a church leader, but I expect You to forgive me anyway.  I’m not going to forgive the abuses of my childhood, but I expect You to forgive me anything.  I know in my heart that God has forgiven me completely but His expectation is that I will forgive all the hurts, wrongs, stabs in the back…just like He does. 

In the verses following this prayer I’ll paraphrase what He is saying:  Those who forgive will be forgiven by Me.  Those who don’t, won’t.  Those are pretty powerful words for those of us who believe.  Jesus was making a point that He wouldn’t have had to make if we were to remember what He said about forgiving…basically- JUST DO IT!  It will be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but, I really don’t want to have to stand before a disappointed Father and explain why I chose not to forgive.  Not gonna happen.

Heavenly Father, Savior, Forgiver of my sins, teach me to forgive and not hold grudges.  Help me to let go of things others have said and done and let You handle the situation.  When I am asked to forgive just let me do it.  Let my life be an example of forgiveness for those around me.  Teach me Your ways, Lord.  Make it so!

Home Again

Ruth 1:20-21I find it interesting when times or things get tough we want to blame it on anything or anyone around us.  This very human characteristic serves the purpose of trying to make sense of the situation by transferring the issue to another person or thing.  Naomi was so very human.  As she tried to sort out her grief she placed the blame on God by pointing her finger and saying ‘He did it’.  The NIV in verse 21b says this very thing…‘He afflicted me and He brought misfortune on me’. Then she does the very thing she needs to do.  She goes to the comfort of home.
Going home is used many times in God’s Word.  The Israelites wondered in the desert for years before returning to the home God had given them…the release of the Hebrew exiles from Babylon to return home…the prodigal…the hope of heaven…Any time a traumatic event happens to us we go through several stages.  Numbness, grief or sadness, blaming, sanctuary, and rebuilding.  In my recent time of healing, as Ray recovered from a Traumatic Brain Injury, and I tried to make sense of it, returning home each night to known comfort was necessary.  As we continue through the rebuilding we continue returning to home as our sanctuary.  Just like Naomi I returned home, whether it was my physical abode or those comforting arms of God, over and over again.  Above all I have learned, once again, to “Be still and know God”.  He alone has comforted, guided, provided, and healed.  He is my Jehovah Jirah, my Provider.
Jehovah Jirah, you have given me so much, you are there when I need anything.  All praise, honor, and glory is Your due.  You have created this beautiful summer morning just for me.  I can only say thank You!  What a Mighty God we serve.

Forgiving Others

Asking For Forgiveness
Do we have the right to be unforgiving?  Can we pick and choose who to forgive based on their perceived or actual offense?  The obvious answer for the believer is no, yet isn’t that what we do? Jesus had an answer for these questions.  He placed it at the end of what we call The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.  He very clearly says you will be forgiven by the Father if you forgive those who sin against you.  He adds you will not be forgiven by the Father if you refuse to forgive others.  So in the very words of Jesus we have no choice if we want to be forgiven by the Father.  (Well actually, we have a choice but if we want the ultimate reward of forgiveness…)

In the story of Ruth we discover that when she returned from Moab she was once again received as a member of the community.  Isn’t that interesting since God had  commanded the Israelites to have nothing to do with the Moabites (Deut. 23:3-6).  There is certainly a hidden story of forgiveness here.  Ruth and Naomi could have been rejected, ostracized, and asked to leave the community, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, a leading member of the community (Bethlehem) married Ruth (the Moabitess) and from that union came Salmon who fathered Jesse who fathered David…Even though God had clearly defined the rules for inhabiting with or aiding the Moabites He chose an obvious rule breaker (Boaz) to continue the family line toward Jesus.   He already knew Jesus’ purpose (to seek and save the lost) and planted both the lost and the Redeemed (His chosen people, Israel)  in it.

He Is Head Over Heals In Love With Us

I’ve recently been giving a lot of thought to God’s love for us.  It must be something He wants me to do because I’ve seen books, reading articles, and listening to other Christians expound on the subject.  Why do I (we) think He can’t possibly mean me (us), even though He assures me (us) repeatedly in His Word.
In Genesis 1:27 we are told that we are created in His image.  Men and women look like God.  Think about it.  Don’t we all sometimes want to look like someone else?  Well, how about God.  Rather than comparing ourselves to others how about comparing ourselves to the One who loved us so much He gave His Son for us.

In Psalms 139:14 the writer is giving praise because he is aware of God’s love through being ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.  He is in awe of the One who cares more about our well-being than anything else.God protects and sustains us from the time we are born until we have many gray hairs.  It’s truly something He wants to do. Don’t we want to protect and sustain those we love?  Of course we do.  It’s God’s love for us showing through us. (Isaiah 46:4)

Siescape-fetus

Siescape-fetus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s look at the book of Hosea.  The cycle is repeated over and over.  Hosea marries Gomer, they have a child, she cheats on him and has two more, he continues to forgive her and take her back.  So like God’s love for us; we sin, He saves us, we sin, He forgives, and the cycle goes on and on and on…

The Painting entitled "Jesus Blessing the...

The Painting entitled “Jesus Blessing the Children” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John 1:12 says when we receive Him, believe in Him, and trust Him because of His name He makes us His children.  Don’t we make the choice from the moment of conception to love our children even when they are sometimes unlovable?  God does too.We are God’s chosen and dearly loved.  Like all who love others He has expectations for us.  We are to show compassion, kindness, and forgiveness (see Colossians 3:12-14 for the list).  Over all we are to wear a cloak of love.  A Japanese translation says it like this, “Love binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
He wants to love us.  Let Him!
Ah, Lord God, my King, my Shelter, my One and Only I do not deserve to be loved by You, yet You do!  You see my insides and my ‘out-sides’, You know my strongholds, my sins, my every part, yet You still love me.  Oh, Lord, help me to be loving to others, help me to love like You do, with compassion, kindness, and without thought to what it will ‘cost’ me.  What a Mighty God You are.     Make it so!