August 17, 2016

Words Matter

It is a blessed day here in Phoenix. It is Wednesday or "Hump Day" as they say, and that means that I have finished my first week of school (hooray!) I have to say this M-W course load is sweet! I wish all my classes were only two days per week. Sigh!

Still, nonetheless, I am giving God praise today because He has seen to my life in such a marvelous and miraculous way. Yes, He has made a way for me, and I am living proof that the God of the Universe cares about His children AND He provides good gifts to those that diligently and faithfully seek Him. Selah!

I was thinking about this very thing earlier today, as I was driving home from ACU. I was giving God praise for my first week of school, and I was thanking Him for providing this class to me. You see, earlier in the year, I was so set against teaching this class. I really do not care for the curriculum, the textbook, etc., and my experience on campus has been stressful the past couple years. In fact, my experience has been stressful for reasons other than this class or this school (LOL!) Yes, my experience as a doctoral student has made it nearly impossible for me to enjoy teaching. I am worn out most days, over-worked, over-pressured, and well, over-cooked! Yet, today, I was thanking the Lord for walking me though the fires of the previous three years, and for providing such a sweet reward after a very long and a very stressful doctoral program. I am blessed, so very blessed this good, good day.

My Words Do Matter to Him

This week I stressed the importance of the power of words to my COM 203 students. Words do matter -- they have power -- and they can influence or impact our relationships in positive or negative ways. The Bible talks about the power of our words, and in such a way, reminds us that with them, our words can bring life or they can bring death. But more so, our words are used to communicate with God, to communicate through His Holy Spirit, and to engage in relationship with our Loving Savior. How we communicate with God also can influence our ability to enjoy life.

I was thinking about how often I pronounce judgment on myself. I mean, how often do I engage in self-talk that is condemning and not life affirming? I would say that I do this regularly. I speak words over myself, my family, and my life that are not built on the Word of God. I say things that are not true, and in this way, I condemn myself to the taunts of the enemy.

The truth of the matter is that God speaks to us regularly, but He doesn't condemn us. No, God speaks words that are filled with life, that are filled with life-affirming goodness. Yet, when we speak words to ourself, to our inner most self, often we speak words that are the opposite of how God speaks to us. We speak words that are filled with death, that are deadly, vile, and that strip us of our God-given position and authority. Let me explain...

A Case in Point

The past couple weeks, I have found myself surrounded and mired in the complexities of life as an adjunct professor. I struggle to know and to understand why things  happen the way they do, and why I must suffer (often as a result of my own choices). The other day, for example, I was filled with fear over my income and my bank account status (near low). I was speaking words of fear over my life, and while I tried to believe God had me covered, and I said as such, my heart simply gave into the fear and let it dominate my thoughts. To say I have been miserable, well that would be an understatement. I have been miserable, a mess, and frankly, miserly and difficult to be around. Yes, I have let my fear make me pinch every penny, and be critical and judgmental of others who seem to be living with abundance.

All of this changed for me, my attitude I mean, when I logged into Regent's online system to check on my status for fall classes (my dissertation credit).  I was hestitant to check my balance, simply because I believed I was getting a less-than-enough refund this semester, and that idea coupled with my already growing fear over a loss in income, simply caused me to spiral downward into a mass of hysteria and deep-seated anger.

God Intervenes

My attitude immediately changed when I saw my current statement posted yesterday. You see, rather than seeing a less-than-sufficient refund in my aid/scholarship listed, I saw the full amount (almost full amount) showing as a negative balance. This means that my refund, which will post to my bank in about a week or so, will provide more than enough income to cover me until I start receiving my regular pay check.

Ouch! Yes, I was convicted BIG TIME, and I realized then and there that my words this entire summer have been fueled by doubts, fear, and consuming worry RATHER than built upon the truth of God's WORD to me. Thus, my words spoke death, and they convinced me that I was going to run out of money short of my start back to school.  The truth of the matter was that, like always, the Lord had me covered -- JUST AS HE SAID HE DID. He provided for me, He kept His word to me. I chose to disregard it simply because my account at Regent didn't reflect the correct information. In short, the Lord kept His promise to me -- but due to a delay in processing or entering the information correctly (I don't know which) -- I didn't see the information presented as it should have been. So, rather than believing God and taking Him at His word, I gave into my own thoughts and doubts, and I condemned myself bitterly. I wept over my situation -- all the while -- the Lord had me so well-covered.

Likewise, this class I am teaching now is a similar situation. I spoke harsh words about this class, the content, the schedule, etc., yet the Lord provided me with a fine group of students, good young people, and a great class environment. Had I simply praise Him, thanked Him, and waited patiently for Him, I would not have suffered so needlessly as my enemy harassed me, canvassed me, and attacked me.

My words were not sweet as honey. My words didn't do anything to build up my faith, but instead, they served to tear it down (to ding it with slings and arrows). Yes, I allowed my own doubt to convince me that the Lord was going to let me down THIS TIME. In fact, He has never let me down. He has never let me slip or fail. He has been my Steadfast SUPPORT, my ROCK, and my REFUGE. Selah!

Now as I sit here today, and I reflect on all that the Lord has for me, done for me, plans for me and my life, one thing is for sure. The Lord cares about the way I use words. He cares about my thoughts, my feelings, and my actual words.

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) says, "The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." One of my favorite devotional authors, Joyce Meyer, said once, "Words are wonderful when used in a proper way. They can encourage, edify and give confidence to the hearer. A right word spoken at the right time can actually be life-changing. (See Proverbs 15:23.)"

In her short devotional on speaking words and the power those words have over our life, Meyer said (2016), "We can literally increase our own joy by speaking right words. We can also upset ourselves by talking unnecessarily about our problems or things that have hurt us in relationships" (para. 2). WOW! This is absolutely truth in a nutshell. Often, the words we speak are a reflection of what is going on inside of us. If we are filled with joy, peace, happiness, love, etc., then what comes out of us will likely be similar. However, if we are filled with contention, spite, anger, jealousy, etc., then often this is what will predominate our thinking and our speaking life. 

Meyer (2016) concludes by saying that our words have the power to transform our lives, and I heartily agree. She writes, "When we understand the power of words and realize that we can choose what we think and speak, our lives can be transformed" (para. 4). The key to speaking words that are transforming is to speak words that are true, and that are founded on the truth of God's word. For example, in our current political environment, I read many blog posts and hear many good Christians ratchet up the rhetoric over what will happen should Hillary Clinton be elected as our next President. It is all 'doom and gloom,' Chicken Little and the "sky is falling" rhetoric. Yet, in truth, I heard the exact same sentiments spoken in the media and in church groups when Bill Clinton, and later, Obama, was running for President. Yet, despite the clamor and the angst over our next President, the truth of God's word remains. God is on the throne; He has not abdicated, and as such, He is Sovereign over all the earth. This means that whether Trump or Clinton win the coveted role, God's role and His influence and His power is not negated. He is God. We can rest in His security, His provision, and His justice.

Meyer (2016) says, "Your words may not be the cause all of your problems, but they can cause a lot of them and they should be given a good deal of consideration when we are looking for answers to the problems we encounter in life" (para. 8). In order to speak words that bring life, goodness, and vitality into our lives, we must focus on the things that generate those thoughts. We must do as Paul says in Philippians 4:8 (NLT):

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

If we give heed to Paul's admonition, we will find that our words will follow suit. We will begin to speak words that are alive and bring life into all our situations and circumstances. 

Today, I realized as I was driving home from school that far too often I allow my thoughts to dictate my words and vice versa. I feed my fear by giving my fear room to grow, to spread, and to develop. Instead of contradicting my fear with words of praise, of honor, of power, I allow my fear to take the lead. And where fear leads, there can be no faith. Fear is the opposite of faith, thus to be faithful, I must speak words that are fueled by the truth of God's word, and words that are representative of reality and not built on unknown outcomes or expected results. Yes, my words must be grounded in His truth alone, and in this way, I can be assured that as I speak life over my experiences and into my daily circumstances, the Holy Spirit of God will help me to control my feelings, my emotions, and my desires so that everything I do, I think, and I speak aligns with His will for me. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

In Closing

As I close out this blog post today, I am reminded of His faithfulness to me. He has provided a way for me to go, and that way is securely tied to His will for my life. Thus, I can rest in His provision -- it is enough, always enough. His provision covers not just my financial needs, but every single need I have in my life. This means that all material, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs have been met in Him alone. Therefore, I can let go of the worry, the doubt, and the fear because I am trusting in the One who meets my needs with His sufficiency -- with Himself. He is everything to me, and He is able to be everything to me. 

I will focus on Jesus as my SOURCE, my ALL IN ALL, and in doing so, I will find that my life is filled to overflowing, my needs are supplied with abundance. He is all that I need. I need nothing else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Selah!

No comments: