Free Online Bible Study

Biblical Spiritual Warfare

Beginning July 6 and ending on July 17, I will be leading an online Bible study entitled Biblical Spiritual Warfare. The study is 10 days with 2 days off on July 11-12.  The study will take place in a Facebook group.  At least one Zoom meeting will be held.

If you are interested in participating, please click here.

Spiritual Maturity

Many Christians believe themselves to be spiritually mature.  In many cases, that might be so, however, there are cases in which one might be mistaken.  The qualities that people often believe are fruit of spiritual maturity fail to meet the mark.

When speaking of a Christian who is spiritually mature, one who possesses many spiritual gifts comes to mind.  If a person does not have multiple spiritual gifts, then a mature person will operate strongly in one, according to some.

The final authority as to the definition of spiritual maturity is the Word of God.  We will now see what the Bible has to say.

Be a Doer of the Word, Not a Hearer Only

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James 1:22 tells us that we must not only hear the word of God, but we must also do what it says.  People can quote the Bible, both in and out of context.  Even Satan knows the scriptures as seen in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Knowing the Word is not enough.  Having the wisdom to apply it to our lives and live it is evidence of true spiritual maturity.

I have lived a hypocritical lifestyle in the past.  I am far from perfect now, but I strive to seek to obey the Lord.  I say this because many people live hypocritically.  If they make it to church, they certainly do not take what they learn outside the four walls.  If this is you, simply repent and ask the Lord to help you live authentically.

How Do You Treat People?

It sad to say that many people consider themselves to be spiritual yet these same people will speak harshly to the waitress in a restaurant or demonstrate impatience with the cashier at the grocery store.  Some are mean to the members of their own immediate family.  Whatever the reasons are for this attitude, going to the Lord and seeking transformation is a must.

Social media is a soap box for some Christians to air their ill feelings toward others.  I am a firm believer that social media can be used for the glory of God, but more often, it is used to bash others.  If you derive pleasure from bashing people on Facebook, in gossip, or even speaking rudely to others in person, you need a renewing of your mind.  You need to humble yourself and see that God is not pleased when any Christian mistreats someone else.

How Is Your Love Walk?

John 13:34-35 reminds us that people will know we belong to God by our love for other Christians.  The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).  While spiritual gifts are wonderful and God certainly wants us to have them, they are not the fruit of who we.  The fruit of the Spirit demonstrates that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.  We will not walk in sinless perfection, but we will not be using grace as a license to sin.

Another important point to note here is that godly love is not always a feeling.  While our emotions eventually line up with the direction in which we go, we cannot rely on our feelings to tell us whether or not we are walking in love.  It is a choice to obey God and treat people right no matter what our feelings are telling us.

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The Bottom Line

Spiritual gifts are wonderful!  I thank God that He gives gifts to many.  His gifts and callings are without repentance according to Romans 11:29.  We should enjoy these gifts and seek God’s leading as to their use.  However, we must realize that spiritual gifts are not a mark of spiritual maturity.  Walking in the love of God and obedience to His word are both evidence of true spiritual maturity.

Now is the Time

In Ecclesiastes 3, we are reminded of the wisdom of God’s timing.  He knows when various purposes and plans must be carried out, and He knows when they must halt.  There is a time to plant and time to pluck up what is planted, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

We are in an uncertain time in our nation and world.  The Coronavirus pandemic has many in panic and fear which is completely understandable.  However, as Christians, God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and sound mind.  Certainly, I am not suggesting that we throw caution to the wind, but God never told His people to cave and cower to fear.

Time to Pray

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I understand that we are constantly being told to pray,  but it always should be our first step in any endeavor.  Prayer is a beautiful design given to us by God the Father for communication.  Prayers strengthens us.  Prayer changes our situations.  Most of all, prayer changes us.

Not only do we and others around us need prayer, our nation’s leaders need prayer as well as various state and local authorities.  As a matter of fact, the Bible instructs us to pray for them.  Sadly, I see many that want to bash and say what he or she would do if in leadership, but the fact is you do not know until you are in the situation.  The decisions they are making press heavily on them.  You can see this in the faces of many of them. They need our intercession.

Rather than hitting up social media to gossip and rant, hit your knees and cry out to God for our nation.  Cry out to God for all people!  Cry out for those who are lost without God!  People’s lives and souls are at stake.  What we do matters.

Time to Sanctify Yourself

I am a firm believer in God’s grace and mercy.  He has been so patient with me during seasons of willful sin and in my failings in general.  However, the time has come for many of us to grow up in the Lord.  It is vital that we open our Bibles along with our prayer and ask the Lord for wisdom to rightly divide His word.

When reading His word, you will discover areas of your life that need to change.  I have discovered the same.  Instead of trying to change what the Bible says or justify ourselves, let’s surrender to Christ and allow Him to change us.  It is not pleasant to the flesh, but it is vital.  The world needs to see a people on fire for Jesus and so in love with Him that we allow His love to radiate through us so others can see.

Time to Fast

Christians, it is time for us to push the plate back to show our true desire for God’s will in our lives and for the salvation of our lost people.  I love to eat as good as anyone, but I find that fasting has turned the heart of God.  It is His desire to show mercy.  It is His desire to save.  It is His desire to heal and deliver, but we have to allow Him to drive out that which is not godly in us so He can put more of what is Him in us.

Read the book of Esther and Jonah.  Fasting turned away God’s wrath and brought mercy and healing to Nineveh.  Fasting turned God’s heart to pour out divine favor on Esther as she went before the King without being summoned, which could have led to her demise.  Jesus instructed us to fast.  When giving instruction concerning fasting, He said, “When you fast…”  He did not say “If you fast…”  How you go about that process is something your should seek the Lord about particularly if you have diabetes or some other ailment.

Time to Act

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The time to do more than talk the talk has come. It is time to walk the walk.  It is time to demonstrate God’s love and faithfulness to those with which we come in contact.  For some, it might be to stay in to keep from spreading the pandemic.  For others, it is to be on the front line bringing aid.  For all of us, we can pray.  We can look after the elderly.  We can encourage each other and pray for our leaders.

Yesterday is gone.  The time is not tomorrow or next week.  The time to do God’s will is now.

Is Progressive Christianity Biblical?

Progressive Christianity is known as movement that seeks to change Christianity.  When I say Christianity, I mean biblical Christianity.  Attempting to re-write the Word of God or dismiss certain portions of it is dangerous.

For the past several years, I have avoided speaking out on this issue.  Why?  Honestly, I knew it would open a proverbial can of worms.  However, if I refuse to speak truth, I will answer to God.  So will you.  Keep in mind that I am not suggesting that God’s people suddenly start beating people over the head and becoming combative.  I am simply saying that it is time to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Experience Over the Bible

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An alarming trend has been on the horizon for many years now.  I fear that it is becoming more than a trend.  Christians are beginning to trust more in their experiences and emotions than they do in the Word of God.

Once again, I believe we can have spiritual experiences, but they must line up with the Bible.  If your experiences are contrary to scripture, they must be dismissed.  Our emotions are real and should not be ignored, but they should not take priority over God’s word.  For example, I might not feel like walking in love.  The feeling is real, but the Bible says I must walk in love, therefore, I need to deal with my emotions and obey God’s Word.

If visions and other spiritual experiences are contrary to the Word,  God’s holy word must be valued over my experience.  1 John 4:1 states that we are not to believe every spirit, but we must try the spirits to see if they are of God.  We are also told that many false prophets have gone out into the world.  1 Thessalonians 5:21 states that we must test all things and hold to that which is good.

Failing to evaluate experience with the Bible leads to false and heretical teachings.  Both Islam and Mormonism were founded upon dreams and visions.  1 Corinthians 4:6 warns us not to exceed what is written.

The Prosperity Gospel

Too many ministers have fallen into the trap of placing their focus on money and material possessions.  Certainly, God has no objection to us having possessions, but when people are convinced that they have no faith since they have no wealth and health, the gospel has been seriously misrepresented.

In Matthew 10:8, we are reminded that we should freely give of the things of God because we have received freely from God.  While it is fine to give to ministries, it is not appropriate that receiving funds to be the entire focus of a ministry.

The true gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ.  He came to save sinners.  He came to set captives free.  Our wealth, or lack thereof, does not determine our righteousness.  Accepting Christ and placing our faith in Him does.

The Definition of Marriage

I love all people.  More importantly, Jesus does.  However, loving people does not mean that I have to approve of what is sin.  No, I do not sit in judgement on someone in sin, but it is time people realized that speaking the whole counsel of God’s word is not judging.

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When God’s people try to find ways to change the definition of marriage to please people, they are bowing to an idol.  Acts 5:29 reminds us that Christians should be pleasing God rather than man.  While homosexuality is not the only sin, it has to be addressed because many of God’s people have caved to the pressure of the world.  Church by-laws have been changed and attempts to wrongly divide the word of truth have been made.

Please know that if you are involved in homosexual sin, there is deliverance in Jesus Christ.  He came to set the captives free. I have been bound to many sins in my lifetime, but He has proven to be my deliverer.  He can be yours too.

Which Gospel Will You Accept–Jesus Christ or What is False?

The decision to be offended or accept what I have said is yours.  Most of all, Christians need to be searching the Word of God for themselves to see if what I am saying is true. Progressive Christianity has progressed because too many Christians accept the word of others over the Word of God.

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Image via Pexels by Pixabay.

It is not a watered down version of the gospel that draws people to Christ.  I have yet to see someone leaving Islam, Buddhism, etc. to become a Christian when he or she sees such compromise.  Christ said that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself.  Rather than lift up false teaching, lift up Christ, the true Christ of the Bible.  He loves you, but He loves you too much to leave you in your sin.

 

 

 

 

Great Transformation

It has been a long time since I last posted.  So much has happened in my personal life since my last post.  Major breakthroughs have happened in my own life as well as my family and church family.  Of course, when a breakthrough comes, other battles come with it.

Wait a minute!  Am I telling you that when you get a breakthrough, you still have battles?  Yes!  It comes as a shock, but count it all joy.  When the children of Israel crossed over into the promised land in the book of Joshua, they battled giants.  Although battles can be scary,  what is even scarier is having no battles.  If you have no battles, you are not progressing to higher spiritual ground.

Battles and Transformation

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Of course, every single second of your life does not have to be a battle, but life does happen.  I mentioned transformation in my title.  Our battles are meant to bring transformation to us.

According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are changed from glory to glory.  This glory to glory change involves being changed from battle to battle.  The word transformation refers to a complete change that is often miraculous.

Look at the Eagle

The eagle is used as an illustration in the Bible and many sermons.  There is a good reason for the analogy of eagles and our walks with God.  Eagles are magnificent birds.  They do not stay on the ground and scratch around.  They soar, and when they do, they soar above most things.

During a storm an eagle will fly higher so he is above it.  One transformation that must take place in our lives as Christians is that we must learn to fly above the storms in our lives.  Yes, we are human.  Yes, we will feel pain, but we do not have to allow the pain and suffering to cause us to drop to a level in which we do not belong.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can fly higher until we are above the storm.  The storm, or the circumstance, is still occurring, but we are above it.  We can avoid being negatively affected by adverse circumstances.

Is Such Change Possible?

In ourselves, it is impossible to soar above a storm, spiritually speaking.  However, with God, all things are possible.  When we tap into the power that Christ gave us through the cross and His resurrection, we can do great things.  Of course, these accomplishments are not for our glory but to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have been listening to a Christian neuroscientist as well as studying in God’s word about transforming thoughts.  According to what I have gleaned, God’s people have not even begun to tap into the power that God has made available to us by renewing our minds day by day.  Until our thinking changes, great transformation will not take place.  Romans 12:2 reminds us that we are not transformed by our own goodness or simply trying extra hard.  We are transformed by renewing the mind.

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In future posts, I will have more to write about this.  Until then, pray about your own transformation.  Through Jesus Christ, we have been given all we need for life and godliness.  We simply need to learn to utilize what we have been given.

Stubborn Versus Teachable

Have you ever been around a stubborn person?  Perhaps you have obstinate tendencies yourself.  I have experienced both.  I have been around people who refuse instruction of any type, and I have been that stubborn person.  The irony has been that I get so exasperated when dealing with an extremely stubborn person yet I conveniently forget that I can be obstinate in my own right.

Neither scenario is pleasant.  Sadly, many people who are stubborn simply cannot see that flaw in themselves yet they can detect it in another person.  Human nature can be hypocritical.

Determination and Stubbornness:  The Difference

Everyone needs determination to stand steadfast and avoid deceit from the enemy.  Determination and stubbornness are different although the line can be fine.  Determination is the God-given will to grow spiritually with the drive needed to press through challenges and difficult situations.  Stubbornness is being unteachable and never willing to learn anything new because you are set in your ways.

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When I was a child, I was very head-strong and willful.  I was determined to have my own way and was convinced that no one could tell me what to do. How wrong I was!  I am sure I helped contribute to gray hair for my mother’s head, but the Lord gave her the determination she needed to guide me to the correct my path.  My grandmother told my mother that some of my willfulness was good because it would keep me from allowing people to take advantage of me.  I believe this gave my mother some peace about my strong personality.

Even if you have stubborn tendencies, you can remain teachable and flexible to the degree that God can mold you.  That is where the deliverance lies for the stubborn person.  Fortunately, when I gave my life to the Lord, my zeal to live to give Him glory helped me to see where obstinance could hinder my relationship with Him.  I began to realize that I would have to crucify the flesh in that area of my life.  If you struggle in this same area, you will begin to experience freedom when you realize that you must be pliable and moldable to God.  We are not winning by remaining stubborn when we need to yield.

Do You Have Anything to Learn?

When we yield to stubbornness, we have a strong tendency to believe we know everything and have nothing to learn from other people.  That is a dangerous place to be in our lives!  We block God’s hand from moving on our behalf as well as hinder our relationships with others.

Certainly, I am not saying that we should become doormats for other people and allow them to dictate our lives.  We just need to remain flexible, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us as to when we need to stand firm on an issue or be humble.  It is a great challenge for the strong personality type, but we can do all things through Christ.

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There are some minor issues in which it is better to yield ourselves rather than appear to be right.  Some things are simply not worth the arguing and hindering of a relationship.  People are more important than getting our way.  This particular lesson took years for me to learn.  Unfortunately, I hurt many people along the way believing that I had to get the last word in an argument, and that I had to be right.  I could never be wrong.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Stubbornness Harms Relationships

During my stubborn bouts, I hurt my husband, my parents, children, and other family as well as co-workers.  Admitting I could possibly be in the wrong was painful as I am certain it is for some of you.  While it hurts to be wrong, the momentary pain of crushed pride is feasible when we look at the damage we are doing to our relationships with others, and most of all, to the Lord.

The scriptures have much to say on this issue.  Psalm 81:11-12 says, “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.”  The people of Israel could be very stubborn throughout the Old Testament.  They grumbled and complained when they did not get their way then refused to listen to Moses when he tried to guide them.  We need to be willing to accept guidance from other people, particularly if they are displaying wisdom in their own lives.  Here is a strong scripture concerning accepting guidance: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid,” Proverbs 12:1.  That hurts, doesn’t it?  People who will never listen to others, particularly the Lord, make themselves look unwise, and they are truly unwise!

Proverbs 29:1 states, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”  Our stubbornness and refusing to yield will eventually bring about our downfall.

There are numerous scriptures that rebuke stubbornness, but since some very strong ones have been mentioned, I will give you what the Bible says is the solution to the problem.  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” 1 Peter 5:6.

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There is Hope and Deliverance

Stubborn people are like the rest of those with issues.  They are not beyond hope.  It is a matter of taking on humility which is a choice and willing our selves to submit to God.  The world will not come crashing down around you if you admit that you are wrong about something.  Trust me, I have had to humble myself many times, and I have found that it brings such sweet relief.  Be willing to take advice from someone who has been there.  Humble yourself.  If not, the Lord has ways of humbling you that are much more painful than crucifying the flesh.

  • Refusing to allow God to mold your stubborn heart will result in the wrath of God in your life (Romans 2:5).
  • Refusing correction is not wise (Proverbs 12:1).
  • Pray for a steadfast heart to overcome a stubborn nature (Psalm 78:8).
  • Yielding to your stubborn nature will cause you to move backward instead of forward in your life (Jeremiah 7:24).
  • There is wisdom in meekness rather than stubbornness (James 3:13).

The Bottom Line

Is your obstinance worth losing a marriage, a friendship, a job, or the respect of co-workers?  If you search your heart, I believe you know the answer.  Go before the Lord and ask Him to conform your will to His.  He does beautiful work, and you will have more peace and joy than you have ever known.

 

 

Dealing with False Accusations

People have been falsely accused since human beings began multiplying on the Earth.  Not everyone loves the truth.  Unfortunately, an outright lie, half-truth, or deceitful tale all come across as having more interest and spark than the plain truth.  (Incidentally, half-truths and deceit are still lies, but they have enough twisted truth in them to make them believable.) In most situations, the truth is nothing like the thousands of rumors that fly around it.

Jesus dealt with false accusations during His time in this world.  People accused the sinless Messiah of being a glutton and drunk (see Matthew 11:19).  If God in the flesh could not avoid lying tongues, then neither will you nor I.

It Hurts

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When someone spreads an untruth about us, it is hurtful.  Truthfully, it is one of the things I hate most. Untold and irreversible damage has been done to people’s lives and reputations as a result of a false accusation.

In my own life, I have dealt with this problem.  My type-A personality immediately wants to confront the accuser with the facts.  In some cases, this is the best way to handle the problem.  In other cases, it is best to be more tactful.  Although I have learned much of this the hard way, I have often asked myself how I am to know which method is best–bold confrontation or more polite ways.  The answer is simple:  let the Holy Spirit direct you.  He knows all, and He knows the best way to handle a situation.

My Side of the Story

When a dispute has taken place or one person’s version of a story has been heard, you can rest assured that there is another side to the story.  Unfortunately, we do not always find out the other side.  That is why the Bible commands us to withhold judgment.  Certainly, we do not condone wrongdoing, but we leave judgment up to God in people’s personal situations.

Recently, I had some very blatant lies told about me.  Some of the stories told about me were outright lies.  Others were quotes attributed to me that were either twisted or taken completely out of context.  It is always best to verify the facts before blurting out what we think we know.

Truthfully, I am reminded of times that I wanted to believe the worst I heard about others rather than consider that there might be another side to the story.  When the gossip hits home, I am reminded that rumors are not fair to any person.  We should not start them, and we should not entertain them.

What Does the Bible Say?

God’s word has much to say about rumors, both spreading them and dealing with them.  When you are the one falsely accused, God has a remedy for you that brings peace.  1 Peter 3:16 reminds us that we should continue living right before God.  The accusers will eventually be put to shame.  In other words, keep doing right. Eventually, others will see the truth.

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Isaiah 54:17 reminds us that weapons formed against His people do not prosper.  It also states that every tongue that rises against you in judgment will be proven wrong.  When we give these hurtful and frustrating situations to God, He will reveal the truth and bring good out of the situation.

A Look at Me

Whenever someone has brought a false accusation against me, I take time to prayerfully consider if there are ways I could have handled the situation better.  Perhaps my tone of voice in saying something was a bit hurtful.  Although God does not expect you to condemn yourself or take responsibility for something you have no fault in, it never hurts to ask the Lord if we could have spoken or acted differently in these situations.

After you have prayed about a false accusation, and given it to God, move on.  Let it go.  Dwelling on it only builds resentment which will spill over into your other relationships.  When this happens, we often take our anger out on people who have done nothing wrong.

If you or someone you know has been to prison, lost a job, or divorced over a false accusation, I encourage you to seek godly counsel to deal with this hurtful circumstance.  God can bring healing, and if restoration is needed, He can bring that as well.

Taming the Tongue

Last Sunday at church, I discussed the theme of James 3.  If you are familiar with the book of James, you know exactly where I’m going.  Ouch!  Sometimes, the Word hurts, but we need to let it hurt.

From time to time, I have to take a step back in a manner of speaking and think about my words.  What message do they convey?  Am I speaking life or death?  Am I helping or hurting with my words?  These are questions we must all ask ourselves.

There are a number of ways to misuse your words.  Although I will not be able to discuss all of them, I will attempt to highlight a few.

Negative Speaking

 

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Proverbs 18:21 is a popular passage of scripture. It is often used for selfish purposes such as declaring that people should speak worldly prosperity into their lives.  Although God has no problem blessing His people, the purpose of this passage was to remind us that we should not speak negatively about ourselves, others, or life in general.

Think about all the times that you speak negatively.  How is your disposition afterward?  Do you feel peace and joy?  Or, do you feel down and in despair?  While certain physical conditions can cause us to have a tendency to lean toward depression, speaking negatively can certainly affect our health and the way we get through a given day.

Critical Words

Constructive criticism is one thing, but berating every move another person makes is another.  As we know it, constructive criticism is helpful because it is done out of a pure motive.  Godly correction, which is a bit more than constructive criticism, is to be done in love and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When you speak critically of others, your God-given ability to practice forgiveness is hindered.  Your focus is on the fault in everyone and everything rather than what is good.  If you find it necessary to correct everything someone says or does, you have a tongue issue, and you need to seek God for deliverance.

Colossians 4:6 reminds us that our conversation should be covered with grace.  Extend grace to others and to yourself.  You will find that your disposition will improve.  Trust me, everyone around you will be grateful.

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Gossip

I don’t know of too many people who have not gossiped at one time or another.  It is a natural human tendency to tell what we have heard about others or a situation.  Most of the time, we do not have all of the facts.  Even if what we are repeating is true, there is a chance it does not need to be repeated.  Check with the Holy Spirit.  He will guide you.

Unfortunately, I have helped to spread gossip, and I have been the subject of gossip.  Jesus, help me!  I want to do better, and I believe you do too.  Ephesians 4:29 reminds us that we should let no corrupt communication proceed from our mouths, but we should speak what edifies.

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Walk away from a gossiping conversation.  If you are unable to walk away, try to find something positive to say about the person in question.  Or, simply remind everyone that the Lord commands us to address issues privately before telling them to everyone else (see Matthew 18).

Speak Life

Speak God’s word over your situations.  I am not suggesting that you become a “name it and claim it” sort of person, but I am saying that you should allow your words to line up with what God says.  God’s word says that you are an overcomer.  God’s word says that He provides escape from every temptation. God’s word says that He has given you all things that you need for life and godliness.  What else does God’s word say about you and your life?

Speak Mercy

When people offend us, and it will happen, choose mercy.  I know it’s not easy.  Just yesterday, I was extremely upset with a few people who were gossiping about some people I love.  Although God calls us to confront situations, we still have to speak mercy.  When I say to speak mercy, I mean that we must speak out that we choose to forgive our offenders and put them in God’s hands.  Extending mercy will cause mercy to come back around to us.

Speak Grace

God’s grace has been given freely to us as believers.  We must extend that grace to others. and ourselves.  Let people off the hook.  You do not have to allow people to walk all over you, but sometimes we just need to let things go.

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Speak Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.  The love of God is given to us by the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus.  We can walk in love.  We can do all things through Christ.  Remember this:  love is not a feeling.  It is an act of your will.

What Will You Speak?

James 3:8 states that no man can tame the tongue.  That’s right, we can’t, but God can.  We have God in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so our tongues can be tamed and used for God’s purposes.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 12:36 that we will give an account for every idle word that we speak.  This does not mean that we should always be silent, but it does mean that we should speak by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

What will you speak?  Life or death?  Grace or evil?  The choice is yours, but the same verse that says life and death are in the power of the tongue also says we reap the fruit of our words.