Did you realize that words have power and hence we need to make sure we use them wisely? Words have the power to build up! Words have the power to tear down! Words have the power of death and life! Words have the power of healing! Words have the power to defile a person! Words spoken out of grace have the power to bring sweetness to the soul and health to the body! Words spoken softly have the power to turn away wrath, whereas words spoken harshly have the power to stir up anger! Words can inspire, so will you use them to that end?
So how will you choose to speak today? Will you hold your tongue? Will you keep yourself from saying something that you will regret? Will you think before you speak? Will you consider if what you are considering saying is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? T.H.I.N.K. before you speak! How might you use your words today to change someone’s day for the better? How might you use your words today to make a difference in someone’s life? Do you realize that you have the power to make a difference today by choosing how you will use your words? Will you be speaking the truth in love? Speak the truth in love!
1. Speak words of love … Proverbs 10:11-20
11The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.
13Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.
14The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
15The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
16The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
17Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
18Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.
19Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.
20The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
–from Proverbs 10
Today’s devotional closes with the following message in relations to today’s reading…
Words of love (v.12b) are a fountain of life (v.11a); they cover over ‘all wrongs’ (v.12b) and are ‘choice silver’ (v.20a). If someone has offended you, don’t return the offence. It is said that holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head. Instead, return hatred with love. Speak well of the other person even behind their back and you may find that your love puts an end to the bickering and heals the relationship.
2. Speak words given by Jesus … Luke 21:5-38
5Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13And so you will bear testimony to me. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17Everyone will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19Stand firm, and you will win life.
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
37Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.
–from Luke 21
Today’s devotional speaks to this reading as follows…
Jesus did not have a degree or any formal training. Although he knew the Scriptures back to front, he never went to theological college. Yet his words and language about God were so powerful that, in his early thirties, he was able to teach every day in the temple and draw in the crowds.
The words of Jesus are the most powerful words ever uttered. ‘He spent his days in the Temple teaching… All the people were up at the crack of dawn to come to the Temple and listen to him’ (vv.37–38, MSG).
The words of Jesus are eternal. In this passage, Jesus contrasted his own words with the temporary things that the disciples could see around them. Jesus prophesied about the coming destruction of the temple (vv.5–6) and of Jerusalem (v.8 onwards), which occurred in AD 70. He said, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’ (vv.24,33). Two thousand years later more and more people around the world are affected by the words of Jesus.
The teaching of Jesus is widely acknowledged to be the greatest teaching of all time. We have advanced so much in science and technology. Yet in the last two thousand years, no one has ever improved on the moral teaching of Jesus. They are the greatest words ever spoken. They are the kind of words you would expect God to speak.
Jesus warns about deceptive words. He says, ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and “The time is near.” Do not follow them’ (v.8).
Jesus has told us to love everyone – our neighbours and even our enemies. Now he warns us that although we are to love everyone, we will also be hated by all (v.17).
If you are persecuted, you are to see this as an opportunity to be a ‘witness’ (v.13). On these occasions Jesus says, ‘Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict’ (vv.14–15). Not only are the words of Jesus powerful, but he also promises to put powerful words in your mouth.
So much of the language Jesus uses is the language of love and relationship. It has to do with your heart and your prayer life. He says, ‘But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping’ (v.34, MSG). Don’t be ‘weighed down with… the anxieties of life’ (v.34). ‘Be always on the watch, and pray’ (v.36).
3. Speak the words of God … Joshua 1:1-2:24
Joshua Installed as Leader
1After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2“Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
10So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11“Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ ”
12But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13“Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
–from Joshua 1
Rahab and the Spies
1Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
2The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
4But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6(But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
8Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea10 Or the Sea of Reeds for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.10 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them. 11When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
12“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
14“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
15So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
17Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
21“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”
So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
–from Joshua 2
Let’s live out our lives as servants of the Lord thanks to Jesus who came before us! Let’s reflect on today’s devotionals words as they speak to today’s reading from Joshua…
Joshua succeeds Moses. Moses was described as ‘the servant of the Lord’ (1:1), and Joshua takes up the same title from God. It is a title that was also borne by the prophets (Amos 3:7), Paul (Romans 1:1) and Jesus himself (Isaiah 52:13). To be a ‘servant of the Lord’ is now a blessing that all Christians enjoy. But every blessing God gives you comes with a measure of responsibility. Take that responsibility seriously.
Joshua is to pay particular attention to the words God has spoken (Joshua 1:7). He is to obey them (v.7), speak them (v.8a), meditate on them day and night (v.8b) and put them into practice (v.8b). Fill your mind with God’s truth even in those wakeful moments of the night. This will affect your thinking – your thoughts will be thoughts of truth, freedom, love, victory and peace. God also underlines this by speaking to Joshua directly (v.1), encouraging and strengthening him with two key promises.
First, there is the promise of God’s peace: ‘I will give you every place where you set your foot’ (v.3). ‘No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life’ (v.5a). ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest’ (v.13). For us now, that rest comes through Jesus. Rest is not just putting your feet up and relaxing, but unburdening your troubles and having a deep sense of peace and security in your identity because of who Jesus is.
The writer of Hebrews states that, ‘If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day’ (Hebrews 4:8) – and that ‘day’ is a day made possible through Jesus. As Jesus himself promised, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).
Second, there is the promise of God’s personal presence: ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5b). This brings strength and courage: ‘Do not be terrified’ (v.9b). God does not tell us not to feel fear. But he does tell us not to give into it. Do not allow fear to rob you of the blessings God wants to give you. He goes on, ‘Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ (v.9b).
Again, you now experience that promise through Jesus, by the work of the Spirit. Jesus’ last words before ascending to heaven were, ‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
As Joshua comes under the authority of God’s words, his own words carry power and authority. The people replied, ‘Whatever you have commanded us we will do… Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you’ (Joshua 1:16–17). If you hear and speak God’s words, ‘your words’ (v.18), like those of Joshua, will be powerful words.
In case all this should lead to intensity, super spirituality or self-righteousness, today’s passage ends with the wonderful account of how God uses a prostitute called Rahab. It is so like God to choose a sinner, a prostitute, to be an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5) and a hero of faith (Hebrews 11:31). This is such an encouragement to us not to be weighed down by our past. As Joyce Meyer says, ‘We all have a past. No matter how bad your past is, you can get past your past. God can give you a new beginning; he can use you greatly and give you a future.’