Set Your Direction

James 3:2-12(NKJV) 2For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

This week we have been studying the teaching of Jesus on words in Matthew 12. I want to finish the week with another New Testament reference to the power of words found in James letter to the church. In verse 1, James tells us that not many should desire to be teachers because teachers bear a greater accountability than others do. Then he makes the statement that if we can keep from stumbling with words, we will not stumble at all. According to James, teachers who carry the greatest degree of accountability will be successful if they simply speak as they should. That is an astounding statement.

Once again, we see that words hold a place in our success that we have a difficult time accepting. In James, we see that words set the direction of our lives. James uses two illustrations that make this very clear. I used to do quite a lot of horseback riding in my youth. I have always been impressed with the fact that a small piece of metal could control such a large animal as a horse. Just a small amount of pressure on the corner of its mouth will cause a horse to go exactly where you want it to go. Even when the horse wants to go another direction, the bit will control him.

On the other hand, there is a term to describe a situation when the horse is not under the control of the rider. That term is to “take the bit in the teeth. This means that the horse has gripped the bit with his teeth so that the rider cannot put any pressure on the horse’s mouth so that he cannot turn him. When the horse “takes the bit”, he goes wherever he wants to go and the rider cannot do much about it.

The second illustration is similar in nature. A US Navy aircraft carrier is a city floating on the sea. The rudder is also huge and if you look at it alone, it is very impressive. However when you compare it to the size of the whole ship, it is very small. Yet this relatively small piece of metal controls the direction of the whole ship and by extension the projection of American power.

James tells us that the tongue has the same affect on our life’s direction. When we are in control of our words, we go where we want to go. When we allow our words to be uncontrolled, our lives are not controlled and will go in whatever direction our words take them. In this case, our words will be controlled by our emotions and not by our faith.

If you look at your current condition in life, and then objectively look at the pattern of your speech, you will see a correlation. That does not mean that words are the only factor in life. It does mean they are a more important factor than we usually think. More importantly, we can become proactive in using our words to set our course in life. Where do you desire your life to be in the future. Make a decision to set that course with your words.

As we read on in this section of scripture, we find that James emphasizing the uncontrollable nature of the tongue. He points out that the tongue can kindle a large fire even though it is a small organ. The world is well aware of the potential damage words can do. The most destructive war in human history was set into motion by the words of a very evil man. Adolf Hitler took a nation of good people and caused them to both allow and do things that most of us cannot imagine. His most powerful tool was words.

We all know how difficult it is to control our words. We say things we do not want to say. We do not say things we know we should. In both cases, we cause ourselves grief that could be avoided if we simply controlled our tongue. However, James tells us that no one can control the tongue. He says that man’s wisdom has controlled all kinds of animals, but no man can control the tongue.

Is James saying that it is simply impossible to control the tongue so we should not bother to try? That is not the case at all. He is saying that we cannot control the tongue with our flesh. However, we have more than the flesh available to us. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to help us.

How can the Holy Spirit help us control our tongue? There are two ways. First, we need to give the Holy Spirit more control in our life as a whole. When the Holy Spirit is in control of our actions, we will be less likely to allow our tongue to speak contrary to that control. There is another way the Holy Spirit can help us control our words. If we are filled with the Spirit, we have the ability to pray in the Spirit and I believe this involves praying in other tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:14(NKJV) 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

When we pray in tongues, we yield our tongues to the absolute control of the Holy Spirit. We do not understand the words we speak so we cannot control them. I believe the more we do this the more we train our tongues to speak in line with the will of the Holy Spirit when we do choose our words. We should never discount the power of praying in the Holy Spirit.

The other thing we can use to help control our tongue is the written Word of God. When we pray in the Spirit, we yield control of our tongue to the Holy Spirit. When we choose to speak the written Word of God, we take control of our tongue and make them say what God says. We take hold of the “bit” and choose with our mind what direction our words will take. When we are speaking the words written in the Bible, we know that they are words that perfectly reflect the will of God. We also know that they will take us to a place of blessing and not a place where the curse awaits us.

You may not fully understand the principles involved in how words affect your life. I am sure that the flesh will rebel against the idea that you need to use your words according the direction of the Holy Spirit and the written Word of God. However, the bible is clear. If we control our words, we control our actions and release faith instead of doubt and fear. As we control our actions, we control the outcome of our circumstances.

Do not let your words control you. Do not let your emotions control your words. Take hold of the bit. Get your hands on the wheel that controls the rudder. You can set the course of life according to the Word and will of God. This is a powerful truth and we can use it to our advantage. Let us end the week by reading the verse with which we began this study.

Proverbs 18:21(NKJV) 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

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The Words Heart Cycle

Matthew 12:35-37(NKJV) 35A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We have been studying the power of words to release the promises of God in our lives. God has given us “exceedingly great and precious promises”. These promises represent the will of God for our lives and contain the power of God to bring them to pass. When we believe these promises, the power of God is applied to the challenges we face.

Promises are words, and our words have a major role to play in how they affect us. Proverbs 18:21 makes the bold statement that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Our spoken words make friends with death or life. Our spoken words enforce the status quo that death is trying to hold us within, or they enforce the truth of the word of God.

This week we have been studying the words of Jesus in Matthew 12. He then tells his listeners that good people can produce good things with their words if those words flow from the good treasures that are in their hearts. We ended yesterday by defining the heart as the subconscious part of our soul. The soul is the mind, emotions and will. The conscious mind determines what we think. The subconscious determines how we think. The heart stores both the words spoken to us as well as the experiences of life. Some of these things are good and some are not.

In verse 37, Jesus says we are judged for every idle word. Idle words are the ones we speak when we are not trying to guard our words. They tend to reveal what part of our heart we are drawing from. They also tell us what we really believe. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.

Here is our problem. We will speak from what is in our heart in abundance. We cannot help that. We may try to speak good things, but if we do not have good things in our hearts in abundance, the bad things will come out. If we want to begin producing good things, and Jesus says we can, we need to change what is in our hearts in abundance.

Since the heart stores everything, we have a great deal in there that comes from the accumulated experiences of our past. We cannot change them. They are a part of us. However, we find from the Word of God that once we are born again, we are a new creature. That old past man is dead. All of those experiences and ugly words were spoken to a person who was separated from God. Before salvation the soul, including the heart, must try to contain the death within the spirit of man. Once we are born again that all changes. The spirit of man is full of the life of God.

As a Christian, we have the ability to change our heart from the inside out. Before salvation, the inside was full of death, so we could only change the heart from the outside in. Out of my heart flow my words. My words have the ability to produce either death our life. If my heart is full of death, my words will produce death. If my heart is full of life, I will produce life with my words. I must change my heart. I can do that by tapping into the life within me.

Look at these words from Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:12(NKJV) 12For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

What can affect the thoughts and intents of the heart? The word of God can do that. The word of God as written in the bible has the capacity to enter our hearts as a seed. Mark 4 tells us that the seed grows day and night. As it grows, the seed changes the soil, our hearts, and produces the fruit that the seed planted represents. The seeds of the word of God contain God’s power. If they are healing words, they plant healing seeds in our heart. Joy words plant joy seeds, prosperity words prosperity seeds, holiness words holiness seeds, etc.

As we plant more and more of the seeds of God’s word, a miracle happens. We are new creatures in Christ because of salvation and the new birth. However, the last verse I quoted yesterday, Romans 12:2, tells us that transformation occurs because of the renewing of the mind. The mind is part of our soul. Paul is speaking to the church at Rome, not those who are unsaved. Christians are born again, but they need to be transformed.

How can they be transformed? They are transformed by the renewing of the mind including that subconscious part of the mind called the heart. How can the mind be renewed? The mind is renewed by filling it with the Word of God. This will lead to a transformation of how you think and the ability to access the power of God stored in the promises of God. That will lead to the total transformation of how you live your life.

This is a very important and much larger subject than I can cover here, but let me try to tie it to what Jesus said in Matthew 12. If our words are producing what is in our heart we must make sure that our hearts are full of good treasure. The only way to do that is to change our heart by planting the seeds of God’s Word. One of the ways my heart hears the word of God is when I speak the word of God.

I believe what I say more than I believe any other words. If I read the bible that tells me my God will supply my need, but consistently speak, “I don’t see how we are going to get by. It is impossible for God to meet my needs.”, I will believe my words not God’s. The idle words I speak will reflect that. However, I do not have to speak idle words.

It is difficult for us to grasp that changing how we speak can change what we believe, but it can. There is a cycle at work in our lives. One component of that cycle is the words we speak. There are things in our hearts that come out in our words. They produce good or bad things. My heart is pressing me to release the words it believes. What will happen if I choose not to speak the words that flow from the bad things that are there? What if I choose to speak out of the good treasure that is there? What if I choose to say what the bible says about my circumstances or emotions? What will happen? I will hear the good words and plant the good seeds of God’s word in my heart.

I cannot change my experiences. I cannot just snap my fingers and change my hearts stored treasure. However, I can choose what I will plant in my heart. I can choose what I will think on as well. When I choose to combine my words with the thoughts that come from the word of God, something powerful happens. My heart changes. It begins to store up more and more good treasure. If we continue the process, soon we will find that our idle words begin to produce good fruit. When this happens, the cycle begins to work for us.

Few Christians come to the place of understanding this truth. I have tried to explain something in a few words that takes a lifetime to put into practice. Think about what I have said and ask the Holy Spirit to bring clarity. This is vital. The promises of God are there for us, but we negate them with our words. When we reinforce the promises of God with our words, the only limit to what we can do is the will of God.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Matthew 12:35-37(NKJV) 35A good man out of the good treasure £of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Yesterday we looked at verses 33-34 of this section of scripture. Jesus is confronting the Pharisees concerning things they said about how he cast out devils. Their words were blasphemous because they attributed to the devil something God was doing. He then begins to teach about words and their power. In describing the Pharisees, he says that they are evil so they cannot produce good things with their words. Even when they speak things that sound good, their words produce evil things because they come from an evil nature.

In today’s scripture, Jesus begins to reveal that we can produce good things if our heart is good. Our words will reflect what is in our hearts in abundance. Jesus says that a good person produces good things out of the treasure in his heart. The evil treasure in a person’s heart will produce evil things. It is possible to speak words from our hearts that produce good things in life.

Let me point out something here. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees who are not born again. No one was born again at that time. The only truly good person was Jesus. That is not the case today. The reality of the new birth is that anyon who receives Jesus becomes a new creature in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18(NKJV) 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

The Christian has not simply changed his beliefs or his religious affiliation. Christianity is not simply a way to give him peace or get in touch with his “spiritual side.” Christianity is a complete change of nature that happens to the person who receives Jesus as Lord. They are changed in the deepest part of their being. Ephesians 2:3 says that we were all “by nature children of wrath.” Those who receive Jesus as Lord are no longer children of wrath by nature but children of God.

The Pharisees could not produce good things because they were evil. That is what Jesus said about them. We are no longer evil because our spirit is born again in the image of God. A Christian is good. Therefore, he or she has the potential to bring forth good treasure from their heart. However, the heart is not what is born again. The spirit or nature of man is what is changed. The heart is another matter.

Man is a being made up of three parts. When God created man, Genesis 1 says he created him in the “image and likeness of God.” This phrase means a being like God. God is a spirit. (John 4:24) When God created man, he created him in his image and likeness, so man is primarily a spirit. However, God placed man in a world that is physical. God is unlimited. We call his world heaven. It exists on a different level than the physical world we live in. Man, in his essence, is part of God’s world. He is a spirit but God placed him in a physical world.

To exist in the physical world he had to have a physical body. The first seven verses the second chapter of Genesis give the detailed account of how God created man. For all other living things, we see that God simply spoke and they appeared alive. We see this in chapter 1 verses 20-25. In verse 26 God speaks of creating man, but it is in chapter 2 that we see how he created man. There is no indication that the creation of any other living thing consisted of anything but speaking them into existence.

Man is different. Let us look at the account.

Genesis 2:7(NKJV) 7And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

The Lord formed man’s body out of the physical earth he had already made. I see great care in this. He made it with his own hands. Yet when he finished forming the body he intended for man, it was dead. It had no life in it at all. It was not until he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” that man became a living soul. What did God breath into man? I believe he breathed a spirit, a being made of the substance of his world into that dead physical body. The source of man’s life was not the physical but the spiritual.

When Adam committed sin in the Garden of Eden, something happened to him. We see in Genesis 3 that there was a fundamental change in him. He became fearful. He hid from God because he knew he was no longer right with God. He blamed his wife for his actions. It is this change of nature that is reversed in salvation.

When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, our spirit is made right with God once again. However, nothing happens to our body. There is a third part of man that is only marginally affected in the New Birth. Since our spirit is the inward most part of what we are, there has to be a way for the spirit to communicate with the body. We call that part the soul. It is made up of our mind, emotions and will.

When man’s spirit fell, it affected his body and his soul. His body began to die physically. It took over 900 years for that to happen, but without the fall it never would have happened at all. His soul took on a different role. Instead of being the channel for the spirit to communicate with the body, it became the insulator between the death within man and his outward life. God created the spirit to be the part of man that controlled him, but man could not let that part be in control now. After the fall man was by nature, or in spirit, a child of wrath or the devil.

The deepest part of the soul or intellect is the heart. We often call it the subconscious mind. The heart is like a computer hard drive. Everything that is ever put into a computer is on that hard drive. Even when files are deleted, they remain on the hard drive unless sophisticated technology is used to remove them. There are files that the computer needs to operate which most of us have no idea are there. There can also be files that should not be there and can do damage to our system or communicate information we do not want others to know. These are called viruses. They are all there as long as the hard drive exists.

In the same manner, the human heart is the place where every word that has been said to you and every experience in your life are stored. The human brain is the most sophisticated and powerful computer known to man. We still do not understand how it works, but science has confirmed it has the power and capacity to store all these experiences. Some are good experiences and some are bad.

We have gone a long way to get to a simple point. Jesus said a good man brings forth good things out of the good treasure of his heart. An evil man has no good treasure because his spirit is corrupted so nothing in his heart is, in the end, good. However, we are born again. Our spirit is not evil it is good. We can produce good things, but not all of the treasure of our heart is good. If we want good things to come forth, we must tap into the good treasure that is there. If we want to increase our capacity for good things to come forth, we must increase our good treasure and decrease the evil treasure. How can we do that?

Romans 12:2(NKJV) 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God…..Stay with me. I believe this will all come together in tomorrow’s post.

Fruit

Matthew 12:33-34(NKJV) 33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Last week we spent a great deal of time with two thoughts. First, that we must do what Joshua did if we want success in our walk with God. The Lord told Joshua to meditate in “this book of the law” day and night. He had given Joshua a promise earlier that he would be with Joshua as he was with Moses. The Book that God told Joshua to meditate in was the first five books of our present day bible. They told Joshua how God was with Moses.

We must meditate on the Word of God, particularly in respect to whatever promise that meets the challenge we are facing right now. When we do, it reinforces and strengthens our faith in that promise. The result will be that we will “prosper and have good success.”

The other thought was from Proverbs 18:21. This verse makes a clear statement. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is hard for us to understand that our spoken words can be so important to our success or failure in life, but that is what this verse is telling us. Death and life are both spiritual forces. Life comes from God and it is his desire that we walk in life. Life produces peace, joy and victory. Death comes from the devil and became a part of the human experience because of the fall of man. It is the source of sickness, strife, poverty and physical death.

Proverbs 18 tells us that we will eat the fruit of which one we love. The word love in this verse means friendship. We make friends with either life or death with our words. We enforce either life or death with our words. When we speak “death oriented words” of fear, we enforce the status quo. When we choose to speak “life oriented” words of faith in the Word of God, we enforce the will of God as represented by his promises to us. Which one are you making friends with?

This week I want to look closely at two New Testament verses that expand on these two related ideas. In today’s verse, we see Jesus’ speaking about fruit. It is important that we understand to whom he is speaking here. In the two previous verses, he speaks of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is dealing with the Pharisees in this chapter. They accused Jesus of casting out demonic spirits by the power of the devil. They contended that the demons obeyed Jesus because he was himself influenced by demons. Jesus warns them that to attribute what God is doing to the devil is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and this is a sin that cannot be forgiven.

I want to be clear that I do not think Jesus is referring to things said in ignorance. The Pharisees new that demons were not cast out by the devil. They made this accusation because they perceived Jesus as a threat to their power. That is why the accusation amounted to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. When God does something that you know is God and you call God the devil that is blasphemy.

Let me define blasphemy. The English word means “something done or said that shows disrespect for God or sacred things.” The Greek word used here means to speak evil against something or someone, in this case the Holy Spirit. In this context, Jesus is talking about words. The Pharisees were speaking words that attributed the actions of the Holy Spirit to the devil. He tells them that this sin cannot be forgiven. That is a strong statement.

It explains why he gives the teaching that he does beginning in verse 33. He says to us “Either make the tree evil and the fruit evil or the tree good and the fruit good because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What does this statement mean?

I believe Jesus is speaking to the fact that the Pharisees believed one thing and said another. They spoke about the law. They taught the law. They represented themselves to the people as those who knew God and the way to walk before him. However, when confronted with the Son of God, they said that he did his works by the power of the devil. They said this, not because they really believed it, but because they saw Jesus as a threat to their power. What was really in their heart? Selfishness was the fruit that their words were revealing to Jesus.

We need to take a close look at the fruit our words reveal about us. Jesus statement is to the Pharisees and it is extreme because their offense was extreme. They were given the task by God of leading the people in how to know Him, but instead they lead the people away from him because of selfishness. The statement itself is a general statement of truth. We will eventually speak in line with what is in our heart in abundance.

We are going to learn a great deal about words this week and how they relate to what is in our heart, but first, let us use this tool that Jesus has placed into our hands and see where we are right now. I want you to resist the temptation to feel condemned. Jesus was condemning the Pharisees because they were in active sin. What I want us to do this week is not to reveal sin, but to reveal fruit. What fruit are our words producing?

Jesus said we would speak out of what is in our hearts in abundance. If we objectively look at our words, we will see what is in our hearts. We may try to discipline our words to say the right thing, but at some point, what is in our heart will come out. We cannot help that. Look at verse 36.

Matthew 12:36(NKJV) 36But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

We will look at this more closely later in the week, but today I want to focus on the term, “idle words.” What are idle words? The Amplified Bible says that idle words are “nonworking or inoperative words.” That is a good picture, but I want to give you another. When your car is running but not going anywhere, you say it is idling. It has the potential to move but it is not in “gear.” Idle words are the ones we speak when our minds are not in gear. When we are not directing our words to go anywhere or do anything, they are idle.

Listen to your idle words. They will tell you what is in your heart. When you are guarding or directing your words, you will say the right thing for the occasion. When your words are idle you will say what is in your heart. How many people will speak one way at work and another way at home? The words spoken at home tend to be the idle words. You let down your guard and things come out of your mouth that are not really aimed at your family, but you cannot say them at work. When your mind and your mouth go “idle”, they come out.

I want to say again that the purpose of this exercise is not to bring condemnation. The purpose is for us to look at the fruit our hearts are producing through our words. I guarantee you that if you are objective you will not like what you find out. However, when we find out the problem, we are that much closer to solving it.

This verse tells us that the words we speak are a product of the fruit that is in our heart in abundance. Words are seeds and they produce the fruit they come from. If our words are full of anger, they will produce anger in our own hearts and in those around us. If they are seeds of doubt, they will produce doubt. If they are seeds of discouragement, they will produce discouragement. What must we do?

We must change what is in our hearts in abundance so we can change what we kind of seeds we plant. In the natural, if we want a field to produce a different crop so we can have different seed, where do we start. We start by plowing the field and digging up the plants producing the bad seed. However, to eventually get good fruit that produces good seed, we start with good seeds. More tomorrow.

The Power of the Tongue

Proverbs 18:21(NKJV) 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

This week we have been looking at Joshua and the place the power of promise played in his life. Joshua was given a promise that God would be with him as he was with Moses. In Joshua 1:8 the Lord told Joshua that his success depended upon meditation in “this book of the law” on a day and night basis.

As we looked more deeply into this verse, we discovered that meditation in the written Word of God would energize the promise of God. As we meditate in the written Word of God, it becomes alive in our hearts and faith to receive the promise is produced.

The word translated “meditate” in Joshua 1:8 carries with it several ideas. One of them is the idea of “muttering.” To mutter means to say quietly. The picture here is of repeatedly saying something to ourselves. Joshua not only read the “book of the Law,” he spoke it to himself over and over again until faith rose in his heart.

There has been much controversy over the place of words and confession in the life of a believer. Some use the place of words to bring bondage and condemnation on people. This is not what the bible teaches. However, there are those who say that the words we speak have no effect upon our lives one way or the other. They feel it is silly to talk about disciplining what we say. No matter which side you may fall on in this discussion, the verse we quoted today is irrefutable. Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

What is this verse really saying? I have studied the place of words for much of my ministry life. I believe this verse means exactly what it says. We have the power to release either death or life by what we say. To the natural mind, this does not make sense, but if we accept the truth of the Word of God, we must accept what it says. The words we speak are very important. In Joshua 1:8, God says that meditation in the Word of God was key to his success. One element of that meditation was what he said with his mouth.

Next week we will look at a number of New Testament verses on his topic. Today I want to spend a few minutes looking into this verse. There are some keys within the words used that will help us understand the importance of what the writer of Proverbs wants us to know.

First, let me comment on the two words that are central to everything else in the verse. They are the words “life” and “death.” We tend to focus on the natural meaning of these words to the exclusion of all else. This is understandable given the place natural life and natural death hold in our thinking. However, looking only at this perspective causes us to miss their biblical meaning.

From a purely natural perspective, death means the cessation of life. When we die our physical consciousness ends and our bodies cease to function. Death is the end of life. On the other hand, life is the just the opposite of death. It is the continuation of consciousness. If we are alive, our bodies continue to function. When our bodies die, they decay and eventually disappear. As long as they are alive, they do not decay. However, this is not the meaning of these words from a biblical perspective.

Biblically, life is to know or be connected to God. Death is to be separated from God. Genesis 3 tells us that when man sinned he was separated from the life of God and death took control of the earth. Life is a force or a nature that flows from God. Death is a force of nature that flows from the devil. Everything that is negative to man is a product of this “spiritual death” that came into the earth because of the fall of man. Conversely, everything that is positive to man comes from the life that flows from God.

If we look at Proverbs 18:21 with this in mind, the Lord is telling us that our words release these two forces. When we speak words of life, life is released. When we choose to speak words that convey death, death is what will be released instead. One way to look at it is that the words we choose to speak enforce one or the other of these two forces.

Police officers do not write laws. They have no say in what the speed limit should be on any given road. Their job is to enforce the law. When someone breaks the speed law, the police officer will stop them. Even if he does not stop the lawbreaker, the presence of the police car alone is enough to make most people slow down. We do no write the promises of God. We did not decide what is life or death. We do have the right to enforce one or the other in our lives. We do that with our words.

When we see things in our lives that are negative, they are a result of spiritual death at work. If we choose to speak in line with those things, we enforce their right to exist in our lives. If I am sick, that is a manifestation in the natural of spiritual death. I can choose to say, “I am sick and I think it’s getting worse.” That enforces the idea of sickness in my life. However, because of the blood of Jesus I have the right to enforce something else.

The bible contains words that enforce life. The bible says that the stripes of Jesus purchased healing for me. (Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24) I can choose to enforce life by speaking the words of God. Instead of saying, “It’s getting worse.” I can say, “I have healing because of the stripes of Jesus.” One enforces the death that is taking hold of my body and the other enforces the life of God that can bring healing to my body. I can choose which words I will speak

As I read this verse, I noticed the word love. I thought, “That is an odd word to use here.” I looked up the word love and in the context of Proverbs 18:21 it means friendship. The idea is that your words make friends with either death or life. I do not know about you but I want to make friends with life not death. I want my words to join me to life and not death.

Our natural minds rebel against the idea that a simple thing like what we say can be so important. We find it hard to believe that disciplining what we say can actually produce a change in our lives. However, Proverbs 18:21 is only one of many bible verses that tell us they do make a difference.

I find it interesting that something so simple is resisted by our flesh. We do not want to discipline our words. We tend to feel like this is infringing on our freedom. We say, “I will say what I want to say and nobody will tell me I can’t.” I am not saying you cannot say what you want to say. On the contrary, I am telling you that you can choose your words.

You can choose life with your words. You do not have to let your words flow from doubt, fear or unbelief. You have a right to speak words of life and victory. The devil does not want you to make that choice, because it will cause him to lose his hold over you. Your flesh does not want you to make that choice because when you do, the flesh loses control.

Look at the words of Moses in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 30:19(NKJV) 19I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

God wants us to choose life. One way we do that is by the words we choose to speak. There is tremendous pressure to speak death words. It is part of the nature that came upon man at the fall. If you are a Christian, you are a new creature in Christ Jesus. You do not have to submit to that nature. You can use your words to enforce the new creation in the life of God and reject the old creation death. Choose life today.

Meditate in the Promise Day and Night 2

Joshua 1:8(NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Yesterday we began looking at this scripture in the context of believing and receiving the promise of God for your life. When Joshua had to take place of Moses as the leader of the Israelite nation, God instructed him to meditate on the book of the law day and night. If he did so, he would prosper and have success.

God had given Joshua a specific promise earlier in the chapter. The Lord told Joshua that he would be with him in the same way that God was with Moses. God had helped Moses in every trial and challenge by pouring out his power to meet any need he faced. Joshua could expect the same, but it was as he meditated in the books written by Moses that faith for this promise was activated.

Let me remind you of the two Greek words used in the New Testament to translate the idea “Word of God.” Logos is all that God has said. The whole bible is the Logos of God. In Joshua’s day, this consisted of the first five books only. The word Rhema means the Word of God that he is saying right now. As we meditate on a Logos, it will interact with our hearts and become a Rhema word to us. This process may take some time, but if we continue in the Logos, the Rhema will come forth.

I want to show you this process in the life of Joshua. He had a promise from God. God said he would be with him as he was with Moses. However, the Lord told him to meditate on the Logos. Why was it necessary for him to meditate on the Logos if he already had the promise? Joshua was sure that God would be with him, but what exactly did that mean. The promise was that he would be with Joshua as he was with Moses. If faith to receive this promise was to grow, he needed to know how God had been with Moses.

As Joshua meditated in the books written by Moses, he read how God had been with him. He thought about the things Moses had done. One of those things was the parting of the Red Sea. Joshua was there when it happened. He had experienced it firsthand. There was a certain faith that came from that experience, but Joshua was in a different place now. He was the leader of Israel. The promise was that God would be with him as he was with Moses. As he read and meditated on the books Moses had written, he saw this mighty miracle from Moses’ point of view. Faith for how God had been with Moses began to arise in his heart.

There were many things that Moses did and as Joshua meditated on what Moses had written about them, more and more faith for the promise came into his heart. I want to focus on this one event because Joshua will soon face a similar challenge. The command of God was to cross the Jordan River and lead the people into the Promised Land. There was a problem. The river was at severe flood stage.

We recently went through a flood in our region. Our normally calm river became a torrent the caused extensive damage. We live by this river all the time. We cross it every day. It is not something that causes any problem but when it was at flood stage, everything changed.

We could not cross the bridge for a time because of the dangers of the floodwaters. My daughter’s house was nearly underwater. We had to take a boat to get to it because we dared not drive through the floodwaters. The river was many times its normal width. A flood is a formidable obstacle, yet Joshua had to get through it.

Joshua had no boats and he had no bridges. He had to cross the Jordan on foot with all the people of Israel. Under normal circumstances, this was not a problem. People did it all the time. However, now the Jordan was flooded. There was no way to cross the river.

What was Joshua going to do? He could give in to fear. He could say to God, “We can’t go over the Jordan now. Whent he flood goes down we’ll go over, but you can’t expect us to go now.” God had said it was time to cross. There could be no delay.

What was Joshua going to do? He could try to find some boats to get across. He could have tried to do something in his own strength to get across the river. However, there were up to six million people that had to cross the river. It would be impossible to find enough transportation to get them all over the river. It was absolutely impossible to cross the river. What was Joshua going to do?

He had a promise. God would be with him as he was with Moses. He had meditated on the book Moses had written. He had thought about how God had been with Moses at the Red Sea. He had meditated on it day and night. He might have held up a rod as Moses did except he had no rod. Besides the promise was not that God would do things the same way he did them for Moses, it was that God would be with him as he was with Moses. If God was with Moses at the Red Sea, he will be with Joshua at the flooded River Jordan.

I believe he must have gone to the Lord and prayed something like this. “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I come before you according to the promise. You will be with me as you were with Moses. He faced the Red Sea and now I face the Jordan River. You told him to hold up his staff and you parted the sea. I have no staff but I know you are with me. We will get across the river because you are with me. Now what do you want me to do. Tell me as you told Moses.”

Joshua told the people to get up and cross over the river. Only then did God speak and tell them what they were to do. There was no rod. The river did not part until they stepped into it, but it did part. God showed Joshua and all the people that just as he was with Moses he was with Joshua. God gave Joshua a promise. As Joshua meditated in the Logos that Moses had written, faith for that promise grew until he saw the manifestation of it before his eyes.

What do you face today? The Logos word of God is full of promises. Find a promise and begin to meditate on it. However, do not just look at the one or two verses that make up the promise. Study all you can find on the topic the promise represents. If it is healing you need, find a healing promise. Then read how Jesus healed the sick. Walk with him and observe as he touches the leper and cleanses him. Watch him heal the woman with the issue of blood and rejoice with her at her deliverance. As you do faith for the promise will arise. The Logos word will come alive until the Rhema springs forth in your heart and you cry out, “I am healed now by the stripes of Jesus.”

The Logos is full of promises for your life, but we have also found that there are promises for the salvation of the city as well. Find those promises and read them. Now do not stop there but go to the word and walk with Jesus as he touches the lost soul. Listen as he speaks to the woman at the well. Rejoice with her as she finds her Messiah.

Go to the book of Acts and walk with Peter and John as they go up to the beautiful gate of the temple in their city. Watch as they heal a lame man and follow him as he goes “walking and leaping and praising God” into the temple itself. See how thousands come to Jesus because of this miracle. As you meditate in the Logos of God, the Rhema promise will arise with faith in your heart and you will see miracles with your eyes just as Joshua did in his day.

Meditate in the Promise Day and Night

Joshua 1:8(NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Yesterday we looked at a powerful truth. Any promise of God is the will and power of God for your life. When you find a promise in the bible, you do not have to wonder if God wants that promise for you. His promise makes whatever you see in it God’s will for you. There may be things you need to learn in order to receive the promise. If so, God will begin to move in a way that will help you learn those things. There may be sins that you need to deal with, and God will bring conviction in those areas so you can receive the promise. There may be timing and various other things involved in bringing the promise to pass in your life, but none of those things changes the fact that the promise is the will of God for you.

The second aspect of this truth is that the promise caries the power to fulfill itself. You do not have to pray for the power to see the promise fulfilled. You simply have to believe the promise and the power is there to do whatever the promise says. Isaiah 55:8-11 tells us that the Word will accomplish what God sends it to do. That must mean the word, or promise, contains the power to get the job done.

Today I want to look at one of the keys that will help us tap into this power and release the promises of God into our lives. This key involves what the Lord told Joshua in today’s scripture. Think of who Joshua was and what he was facing. Joshua was the successor to Moses. Moses had delivered Israel from captivity to the strongest nation of his day. He had performed miracles. He was the greatest leader Israel had ever known. Joshua had some very big shoes to fill.

Three times in Joshua chapter one, the Lord tells Joshua to be strong and very courageous. It is easy to see why Joshua would need this exhortation. Not only does Joshua have to follow Moses, he must finish the job Moses started. He must bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land. To do so he must overcome many difficulties. He faces warfare with a number of different tribes. This will be no easy task and Joshua is going to need the Lord to accomplish it.

The thing God instructs Joshua to do in order to keep from being afraid is “meditate” in the book of the Law day and night. The book of the law is the bible of their day. He is telling Joshua to meditate in the word. However, we must remember that the whole bible as we know it did not exist. Most of the Old Testament had not been written. What book is he actually speaking of. He is talking about the first five books of the Old Testament. These are the books Moses had written telling of Israel’s history to that point in time. They included the book of Leviticus, which set forth the details of the Law of Moses. They also included Deuteronomy, Moses last directive to the people before he died.

The Lord speaks something to Joshua in verse 5 that Joshua can receive as a promise from God.

Joshua 1:5(NKJV) 5No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

To meditate means to dwell on or think about. It carries the idea of muttering, or repeating to oneself. God promised Joshua that he would be with him in the same manner he was with Moses. As Joshua meditated in the books written by Moses, he would see how God was with Moses. He would see that every time Moses faced a challenge, the power of God was there to overcome it.

God commanded Joshua to think about what he had done for Moses day and night. As he did that, the promise God had given Joshua would become more and more real to him. In that reality, he would have nothing to fear. The promise was that God would be with him as he was with Moses. If God’s power overcame every challenge in the life of Moses, it would overcome every challenge Joshua would face. That was the promise.

There are two words in Greek that the bible uses to signify the Word of God. One is the Greek word Logos. The Logos is everything God has said in the past. The written Word of God, the bible, is the Logos of God. It is what he has said about virtually any topic.

The second Greek word is the word Rhema. Many Christians are familiar with this word. You will find “Rhema” churches, bible schools and various other Christian organizations. You will find books and teachings that emphasize this word. That is because it is a very important word. Where Logos is what God said, Rhema is what God is saying now.

There are those who believe that the only kind of Rhema we can receive is if God in his sovereignty speaks to us directly. This might come to us through a bible verse we have read many times which suddenly comes alive in our hearts. It could come through a prophetic word spoken to us directly. Sometimes a teaching or message we hear is so alive we know that God is speaking to us personally at that time. All of these things are valid ways that Rhema comes to us. However, there is another way.

God told Joshua to meditate on the “book of the law.” This was the Logos of that day. He instructed him to meditate on it day and night so that he would not fear. One of the products of a “Rhema” word is that it will remove fear. As Joshua meditated on the Logos, it became Rhema. This then energized the Rhema promise that God would be with him as he was with Moses.

I believe any Logos has the potential to become Rhema in our lives. If we meditate on the word day and night, the Logos that applies to the situation we are facing will “drop down into our hearts” and become the Rhema of God or the word God is saying today.

When we were first in the ministry, and many times since, we faced severe financial trials. We found a promise in the bible from Philippians 4:19. I have alluded to this promise already this week. It was very important to us. We had four children at the time and we did not have the money we needed to provide for them. We began to meditate on this promise. We thought about it. We spoke it to one another. We went to bed thinking about it and we got up thinking about it. Either we could worry about what faced us or we could meditate on the promise. We chose the latter.

This promise did not come to us from a prophet. We did not open to it one day and it “jumped off the page” to us. We had not just heard a teaching on it. We simply knew that God had written it in the bible and chose to believe it. However, it was still “Logos” to us. However, it was still what God said 2000 years ago. We chose to meditate on what he said day and night.

One day something happened. Both my wife and I knew that there had been a change. The promise was the same. What we knew about it intellectually was the same but it was no longer words on a page. It was no longer a letter written to a foreign church 2000 years ago. It was what God was saying to us at that moment in time.

This transformation of the Logos of Philippians 4:19 into the Rhema of “God will meet all my need” released an even more personal promise into my life. God quickened another verse to me from Joshua. He said, “Within three days you will see the solution.” We had some bills due that we could not pay and that we could not afford not to pay. Within three days, the money to pay them came to us from a source we could never have imagined. The promise of God worked! It has continued working for over thirty years. (More Tomorrow)