I want to start my message by reminding all of us that our God is wonderful and altogether lovely! His name is above every name, and He is holy and righteous and just. Let's praise Him with our lips and ask Him to touch our minds and our hearts and to be our breath so that we can be His voice throughout this land.
Let's speak these words together this morning and ask Him to anoint our mouths. Together now, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, my Lord and my God."
I want to touch briefly on the ways that we can help or hinder ourselves and others by the choices we make with our mouths. This is a touchy subject, but I have sought the Lord long and hard, and I am willing to use myself as an example.
Let me start by giving you this Swedish proverb I found in a book. Read these words carefully and thoughtfully:
"Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Whine less, breathe more. Talk less, say more. Love more, and all good things will be yours."
This sounds like good solid advice that is easier to read than put into practice. But God, by His spirit, will enable us to practice this in our daily lives and allow us to have the victory.
We have the choice to do this and to use our mouths to affirm others. God is so gracious and so good. He gave me this acronym for the word good: Grace Offered Often Daily.
His grace is part of His goodness, and He tells us that His grace is sufficient. Let's believe what He says and go forth victoriously because we can do all things through Christ.
There have been time when I have opened my mouth hastily and wished I could recall the words that came out. Words spoken can never be taken back.
Thank God for the cross. That truly is the only way any of us get to go back. When we are heart-sorry and repent, God quickly forgives us and helps us withstand the consequences that result from not choosing our words wisely. Thank God for His grace. Can we all say, "Amen?"
We also must be very careful about the words we take in. Proverbs 18:8 states, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost part of the belly."
We must be cautious that we do not take on each other's hurts. Let's say that someone has hurt us and we carry that hurt. All it takes for that hurt to grow is for another injury to occur.
Oh, the power of words. Watch out!
If one of our friends receives an injury from the same person who hurt us, the enemy wants us to use that as ammunition to open our mouths. One translation states that words spoken out of injury can then be received as "tasty trifles" and taken deep within us. In other words, we can use this to justify our actions, whether they be in word or deed. We must be so careful and ask God for the wisdom to help us choose our words wisely.
I preached a sermon recently on this subject. I had three signs I used as visuals. They read: "No dumpin allowed," "No toxic waste" and "Not an official dumpsite."
I used these as written illustrations to show how we must declare that there are certain times when our ears must be off limits. We need to guard our hearts and be cautious with what we receive. This has a direct bearing on the words that we speak.
We are the body of Christ. We are fitly joined together. Just as every joint in our physical bodies supplies all of our needs, so it is with the spiritual body of Christ. We need each other. One person has what the other person needs, and choosing to work together God's way will always keep the supply flowing.
I want to finish with these wonderful words from Proverbs 25:11: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."
Stop for just a few moments and breathe deeply. Ask God to help you envision this wonderful "word picture." Once again, let us say these words together: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, my Lord and my God."
Now remember, no one will love oyu the way God loves you, and I love you too!
Barbara Mannino is a pastor, including at Hand of Grace at Grace Covenant Church, Lewistown, where she ministers at 9 a.m. the second and fourth Saturday of every month. She is ordained and licensed under the Rev. Randall Stahl, of Trumpet of Praise Ministry.