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Archive | From the Pulpit

Glory to God and peace to men

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, MI 49345

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

This passage of scripture in Luke 2 is one of the most read verses in the bible this time of year. There is so much here, it is often easy to overlook the powerful, yet simple message of Christmas found in these verses! We see from this passage, the angel’s message was one of good news about a specific day in history, in a specific city, about a real Savior, who is Christ the Lord. While this news was being proclaimed, immediately there was a response from heaven. The heavenly response declared two very distinct purposes that God had for sending Jesus to earth.

The first was to declare the Glory of God. Notice it took one angel to announce the savior’s birth, but a multitude joined with the angel to praise God! This word multitude is a military term, also translated host. It meant an army. An army of angels came to sing and proclaim God’s glory. It signified how important this event in history was. It signified how important this Savior was. It was a life-changing event that would forever change the course of history. What did it mean? What did it proclaim? It proclaimed how much God loved the world. We are reminded in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son…” It declared to all of humanity that God alone deserves all our praise. It was intended to grab all of man’s attention and direct it to the one who was worthy to receive it, Jesus Christ! Christmas is designed and celebrated to turn the world’s attention to Jesus.

Secondly, the multitude of angles declared that peace was now available to all mankind, through this sign, this Savior—Jesus Christ. Often, we declare this peace, at Christmas, as a universal one. Meaning everyone can have peace on earth. This is true, but only to a degree. Meaning, this peace is available to everyone on earth, but only to those on “whom God’s favor” rests. Who may that be, you ask? God’s favor rests on those who receive Jesus Christ as savior, as the one who forgives us of our sin; as the Christ, the one who provides hope; as Lord, the one who defeats our enemies and makes us secure; and the one who provides us peace. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself (Jesus) is our peace…” In the current days we are living in, everyone is ultimately looking for and pursuing peace in their own ways. We would love to see the world at peace with each other. However, apart from Jesus Christ this will never occur. Christmas says that Christ is the answer for peace in the world. That’s why many are anti-Christmas. They ultimately are opposing Christ. The message of Christmas to the whole world is that there is peace through a relationship with Jesus Christ! The angels sang and declared this good news of peace. The greatest gift this Christmas is personal peace with God through Jesus Christ. Will you receive it?

Merry Christmas! Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men!

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A Giving Heart

Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Christmas is quickly approaching and for many it is a celebration where family and friends spend time together as they recognize the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This time of year we are reminded of those in need and who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is wonderful that we have concern of those people in need, however, we often times become satisfied with solely having sincere thoughts or sharing kind words. While these are good things, we often fail to fulfill any actual giving or physical assistance to those same individuals. The Bible describes this very concept in James 2:15-16.

When we think of being selfish or greedy, we tend to think of mean spirited people who are engrossed in themselves and their needs and not of the needs of others. While there are people in this world who exhibit this Scrooge-type personality, the truth is, all of us demonstrate some greed and have self-centered tendencies. This tendency can get in the way of our willingness to give or to help those in need. The Bible tells us the importance of helping others throughout the scriptures including Proverbs 21:13, Proverbs 28:27 and in the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).

Why is God so concerned about us giving to and helping others? God tells us in Genesis 1:27:So God created man in His own image. This indicates that we are to be like God and to take on His traits. To be like God is to give. Our God is a giver and that’s apparent in the scriptures.  However, the most important thing God gave came around 2,000 years ago. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Bible also tells us to be Christ-like (Philippians 2:1-3). When we read the Gospels, you will see Christ consistently helping those in need. Therefore, God wants us to give in order that we may be like Him. The Bible tells us that a “giving spirit” cannot be forced; it is something that must come from the heart and should be an enjoyable act from within (2 Corinthians 9:7).

This time of year we are reminded to give to those in need. The concept of giving should not just be contemplated around Christmas. It should continue throughout our entire life, in order that a Giving Spirit may take over. When we become focused on being a Giver instead of a Receiver, it will change our life forever. Giving is something God intended for us to do to others just as He does for us when we face adversity. The Bible tells us that if we give like Him, we will be blessed for it (Proverbs 22:9).

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The Love of God 

Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

Over the years, I have found myself many times contemplating life. Not the navel-gazing type of contemplation, but seriously wondering, where is my life headed? What have I done or haven’t done? Only to come up with a negative value. This process of self-evaluation is common to the human species. I have discovered there are a couple of questions that many people who take the time to reflect on their lives get stumped on—including me.

“What difference does my life make?”

“Does anybody really know or care about me?”

Personal inventories can have different results on different days, with different circumstances past or pending, different moods and a wide range of other factors. One of the triggers for me is that I’m not getting any younger, and considering my life, the good and bad, what have I really done for the Lord in those decades? Recently, I was in one of these processes (ruts), when God brought a scripture to my memory that really shifted my wondering into a positive light.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14 NIV).

In the Old Testament, we find King David meditating on the fact that it is God who made him. In truth, each of us was created, by God, for a purpose.  That is difficult for many to believe, especially as we look at the world around us and consider the prospects for our future.

There is an often-used phrase in many of our conversations today, “It is what it is.” We may look at this from a personal standpoint and conclude that “We are what we are,” and that’s that!  But the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 139:14 implies that yes, we are what we are, but that isn’t all that we are. I want to make clear that King David was not just saying these words fearfully. It does not mean we are made to be frightened or scared of the Lord. What is being said is that David, is being made (created) by God, and holds God in awe, respect and reverence.

None of us had a say in how we were made but we can have a say in what we become. We live in a world where many examples of a “successful life” would not be what God’s plan is for you. Some rock stars, athletic stars, entertainment stars or other icons may appear to be what we want to be, but in the end, we are better advised to choose what God wants us to be.

In any industry we find people who are the stars, at the top of their peers. While unseen, they were created by God and given their gifts or talents by him. And working under these people are the folks who actually make them what or who they are. Fame is fleeting.

When I look back, many of my years working towards the goals I set weren’t spent very wisely. Position, honor, admiration, reputation, security, etc. are certainly worthy human endeavors, but through the first half of my life, I didn’t consider what God’s plans were for me. To say it more clearly, “I didn’t include God in my plans.” There were many times that I looked at where I was at and circumstances that existed where I was at, and felt stomped on, aimless, and all too often worthless.

I have achieved each of those goals in some shape and form, but not one of them lasted. Even what I thought was security turned out to be more of a soap bubble that lasts just a short while. This scripture verse quoted above is personal to me, as it was one of the first that I really considered when I first began my life with Jesus. I discovered that I was made with a purpose in mind. Not what I had planned, but that God had a plan for me.

Every life is a gift of God, even when we don’t feel like it is. We have free moral agency to choose our path in life, and to choose whose counsel we will follow. We must remember that the god we choose to follow in this life will be the god we will serve throughout eternity. Scripture says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

Choose your God wisely!

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How to have a worship-filled feast

The-Springs-blurred-webPastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

 

The famous “theologian” Andy Rooney had this to say about Thanksgiving: “The emphasis is more on what we have for dinner this Thursday than it is on any other holiday. Once you’ve given thanks on Thanksgiving, there isn’t much else to do but watch football and eat.”

Is that true? Is Thanksgiving just a quick prayer followed by food and football and maybe a little online shopping? Thanksgiving can be so much more; in fact, it is intended to be. More than food, more than football, more than door busters, Thanksgiving can be a day of worship, and a chance to share a meal in Jesus’ honor. But how?

I’d like to share three secrets with you for turning an otherwise traditional Thanksgiving meal into a worship-filled feast.

Secret #1: Read a Thanksgiving Psalm together after you sit down to the table and before you say grace.

Colossians 3:16-17 (NLT) says, “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use His words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

One of the ways you can turn your Thanksgiving meal into an opportunity for worship is to incorporate Scripture into it. Reading a Thanksgiving Psalm before the meal lets the words of Christ live in your hearts and sets the table for a worship-filled feast. Some great Thanksgiving Psalms from the Bible include Psalm 30, 32, 34, 40, 66, 100, 116, and 138.

There are lots of ways to do this. Here are two: everyone gathered could read the Thanksgiving Psalm together in unison, or one person could read it out loud for the whole group. Be creative and have fun.  After you read the psalm, go around the table and have each person share what they are thankful for.

Secret #2: Give thanks before and AFTER the meal.

Deuteronomy 8:6-10 (NLT) reads, “Obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with springs that gush forth in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley, of grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey.  It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking…When you have eaten your fill, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”

I’m assuming most of us give thanks before our Thanksgiving meals. But the idea of giving thanks afterward may be foreign to many of you. Giving thanks after a meal is a tradition that has been lost by most Christians, especially Protestants.  But it is a tradition that goes back to the earliest believers, and to Jewish practice as well. Tertullian, a famous early church theologian wrote, “We do not recline at a banquet before prayer be first tasted; in like manner prayer puts an end to the feast.”

Jesus Himself gave thanks before and after meals. We see Him modeling this at the Last Supper where He gave thanks for the bread at the beginning of the meal, and gave thanks for the cup at the close of the meal.

We get our word “gratitude” from the word “grace.” So saying grace before or after a meal literally means to give thanks or to give gratitude. After we have finished eating and our stomachs are full, it is only natural to express our gratitude to God for all He has blessed us with. Like Deuteronomy 8:10 says, “When you have eaten your fill, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”

This year you might want to start a new Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks after your done eating in addition to saying grace before your meal.

Secret #3: Make your meal a time for serving others, sharing love, and seeking reconciliation.

A quick sprint through the New Testament shows how thankful Paul was for his brothers and sisters in Christ. Romans 1:8a (NLT): “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” 1 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT): “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts He has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3 (NLT): “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

Thanksgiving is a great time to follow Paul’s example and share with others how thankful we are for them.

The truth is, for Christians this should be a daily practice, not just once a year on Thanksgiving. Acts 2:46-47 (NIV) describes how the first Christians lived a thanksgiving lifestyle on a daily basis.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the Temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

From the beginning Christians have broken bread and eaten together.  The act of breaking bread together is rich with symbolism. Jesus broke bread with His disciples at the Last Supper, making it symbolic of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 people with broken pieces of bread from 5 loaves, making it symbolic of care and compassion.  In the Old Testament the ritual of breaking the Passover bread symbolizes God’s power to deliver His people.

Thanksgiving incorporates all of this symbolism. It is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, a time for care and compassion, and a time to give thanks for all that God has done to save us.

Turn your Thanksgiving meal into a worship-filled feast by having each person share what they thank God for in another person at the table.  Again there are lots of ways to do this, so be creative.  As dishes are being passed the person who is passing could tell the person they are passing to what it is about that person they are thankful for.

At the end of the day, our Thanksgiving meals should always be held in Jesus’ honor.  Jesus was the guest of honor at many meals.  I’m reminded of Matthew’s party, the meal at Zacchaeus’ home, when Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s home, and when Jesus visited Peter’s mom.

For those of you who are really extreme you might consider leaving an empty chair at the head of your table to symbolize that this meal is in Jesus’ honor and to remember that He is present with you.

This year, try some of these ideas to turn an otherwise traditional meal into a worship-filled feast. By incorporating Scripture, prayer, serving and sharing into your Thanksgiving meal you can do just that.

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Seeds and spheres of influence

Pastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave NE, Rockford

 

I might have missed one while scanning the lineups, but I think because of its location, Courtland-Oakfield UMC is the only church in the Rockford/Cedar Springs area whose pastor has the pleasure and privilege of being a contributor to the religious columns of both the Squire and the Post. There are more individuals who write for “From the Pulpit” (Post) than for “A Message for You” (Squire) and there are annual tweaks to each roster, so in the four and a half years that I’ve been serving Courtland-Oakfield the rotation has never resulted in my turn coming up in the same week for both papers until this week. Now I know a little bit of how it feels to be a syndicated columnist.

Give God credit for good comedic timing because this moment of having potential access to an audience twice as big as usual arrives smack dab in the middle of God teaching me to be grateful for any opportunity, no matter what size, to be a means of God’s grace.

I was describing to a friend only a few days ago what I had been experiencing for about three months as a disheartening feeling of increasing irrelevance and ineffectiveness. With compassion and wisdom she crashed my pity party suggesting I pray that God would remind me that my only responsibility is to plant seeds; whether or not they grow and bear fruit is in God’s hands. “Your sphere of influence might only reach a few people,” she said, “but each of them has a sphere of influence, too, so you never know how God is using you.”

It was only a couple hours later when the speaker making a presentation to a group of pastors of which I’m a part mentioned in his comments, “It can be frustrating for pastors when they plant seeds but never get to see if they grow or bear fruit.”

Call it coincidence if you like, but I certainly sat up and took notice. I went into that night’s Bible study, one of those settings where I’d been counting who wasn’t present instead of appreciating who was, with a new-found enthusiasm. “I get to plant seeds!” I repeated to myself. And that was enough.

That was enough to transform a growing burden of unmet, albeit self-imposed, expectations into a celebration of being invited by God, entrusted by God, empowered by God simply to represent as best as I am able God’s unconditional love, and leave it to God to do with that what God will.

The numbers don’t matter. How many and how much are not mine to measure. Even if it is only one person to whom I can communicate the slightest glimpse of the hope,  healing, and hospitality God offers, I have done my part.

If you’re reading this, then maybe a seed is being planted that will germinate in you in the same way that a brief conversation with a friend and a general remark from a public speaker planted seeds in me that are beginning to sprout in welcome, meaningful, and productive ways.

May we all find comfort and satisfaction that God has placed us and places us in relationships with others where we and they can give and receive what is needed, when it is needed. What becomes of that is in God’s hands. Our task and our joy is to plant seeds.

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All Saints Day

Pastor Darryl Miller

Sand Lake UMC, 

65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 

13600 Cypress, Ensley Township

 

On November 1 we celebrate All Saints Day. This is a wonderful time of remembrance. Typically we remember the saints that we have lost in the past year. But those of you who know me know that I don’t always follow tradition. I think it is good to remember all those who have gone before us, especially those who have helped us in our spiritual journey. Each of us can name at least one and probably many more that have been an influence on our faith walks. Some we knew personally, some we only listened to or read. But these people helped us to grow closer to God and that is worth celebrating.

In the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we find what many call the “Hall of Faith.” This is where Paul reminds us of the “heroes” of our past. He explains how Moses, Noah, and many others have been examples for us to follow. We should keep in mind that these examples are people just like you and I. They were flawed, not perfect. Too often we turn away from people who are trying their best to be true followers of God just because they are not perfect. Well, neither am I—nor is anyone for that matter.

God uses the flawed and fallen as mightily as those closest to him to show his grace. This means that he can use any of us to be a positive influence on those around us. We may feel that there are much better people than us around that should be doing this particular work—more educated, more fluent, more whatever. But God loves to use those who are willing no matter what their feelings about their own abilities. With God, you are a great example. And He can and will use you to show others what faith looks like. The bible talks of standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. To our children and our grandchildren, that means us!

Someday on All Saints Day, wouldn’t it be great to be one of those who are remembered as a good and faithful influence on another’s faith?  If we are willing to serve God in all circumstances, we will be.

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Answers to prayer

cs-united-methodistPastor Steve Lindeman

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

We learn in Scripture that Christ often spent time in prayer. We don’t always know what he prayed for, but we are told that Jesus would go to quiet places—to escape the crowds that followed him and go to the Father in prayer. What would he do then? After his spirit was revived during these quiet times, he set out, once again, to minister to the people. Jesus taught, healed the sick, fed the hungry and cast out demons. And he did all of these things with the power and authority that he had as the Son of God and with the power of prayer. Today, I think that we, as Christians, can sometimes get caught in a trap. We read the Bible and find teachings on prayer, like the words found in Matthew 21:22, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” When we read this verse outside of the context of rest of the Bible, we might think that prayer is a test of faith, and if we don’t receive what we pray for, our faith must be suspect. Not true. When we examine Scripture closely, we find that prayers are not always answered in the way that we might expect. Jesus didn’t always get what he prayed for. When he asked for the cup to be taken from him (Luke 22:42), we know that it was not. Paul prayed for the thorn to be removed from his side (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9), but it was not. God heard these prayers but did not answer them how we might have expected him to. He did, however, transform them into something even greater.

We can learn something from the unanswered prayers of Jesus and Paul. They didn’t pray and then just sit and wait for an answer.  They prayed–going to God in faith–and then they continued their work. Their prayer was followed up with action. And though, sometimes, their specific prayers were not answered in the way we might have expected, we know that God responded to their requests by continuing to work through them so that his plan for history might be worked out.

It is the same for us today; we might not always get specifically what we ask for in our times of prayer. We might not understand why the answers to our prayers are not what we expect. Our response needs to be to keep praying. We must also continue to do good work, and to reach out to others with the love of Christ. For when we are faithful, God will work through us as he did with Jesus and Paul, and transform our lives, into something new and into something even better than we expected.

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You give them something to eat

C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. 

Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children” Matthew 14: 13-21.

 According to the Gospel of Matthew, the beheading of John the Baptist changes the scope of Jesus’ ministry. Up until this time, Jesus was teaching and leading his disciples through some important lessons.  The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of lessons about not only discipleship but also some practical advice on how to behave in the vision of the kingdom that Jesus describes. Many of these sayings have been incorporated into our everyday speech like “turn the other cheek,” “eye for an eye,”  “salt of the earth and others. Also, up until this time, Jesus has been doing everything, he has healed the sick, cast out demons and is teaching about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  So it must have been somewhat surprising to the disciples when they tried to get rid of the hungry crowds, Jesus does something different. He puts the disciples in charge. Jesus turns the tables and says, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples, of course, are dumbfounded and look at themselves and then to Jesus and said, essentially, “We can’t feed them, we don’t have enough food.”  Of course, Jesus shows them they are wrong, what they have is enough.

As we encounter this world we live in, we, too, are sometimes at a loss for how to make disciples for Jesus Christ. We complain that we don’t have enough, we don’t  have the right kind of church building, the right music, the right community.  We would like to do more for local missions such as the food pantry, Second Chance School, or Kid’s Hope but we think we just don’t have enough.  Our text today disagrees with our assessment; we do have enough if we allow Jesus to be at the center of all we do. Jesus has entrusted us with bringing the Good News to those who desperately need to be fed and with Jesus’ help we do have enough.  You give them something to eat.

 

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Maintaining a healthy perspective

There seems to be a real sense of negativity filling the minds of people today. Listen to the media and it seems to be one never-ending stream of reports of disaster, disgrace, despair, and depression. When you fill your mind with bad news, it is a natural progression from there to living a life steeped in a negative attitude. Consequently, we have multitudes of people living with what I call the “Eeyore Syndrome.” People who have this syndrome can only see the negative probabilities rather than the positive possibilities.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us a prescription, an antidote to the poison of negativity that permeates the atmosphere surrounding so many people. It is found in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (NKJV).

If you want to become a person who takes charge of their environment and rises above the negativity surrounding them, you must take this verse to heart and diligently strive to live these values on a daily, moment-by-moment basis.

It may mean some drastic changes in your lifestyle and entertainment choices. Try turning off the radio and TV once in awhile. Choose to watch movies with uplifting and inspiring stories. Immerse yourself in the Bible and learn its timeless truths and values and how they relate to you personally. Take a vacation from Facebook. Read books that stimulate your thinking. Go for walks and admire the beauty of nature. Spend some time watching a sunset and marveling at the ever changing colors that paint the evening canvas of the sky. Become involved in a ministry that helps those less fortunate than you. Do these things and you will be surprised at what it will do for your mental and emotional outlook.

As you make the effort to develop a positive thought life, please recognize the key to success in this effort. It is found in the verse we read earlier: “…meditate on these things.”

The word meditate means “to carefully consider, to calculate, and to ponder.” That means tat we are to intensively focus our attention on things that are positive and uplifting. We are to concentrate on what is pure. We are to study what is just. We are to meditate on things that are pure.

And the tense of the word indicates we are to keep on doing it. It is an ongoing process that we purposefully pursue every moment of every day. So, let me encourage you to try it. It may revolutionize your life into an upward trajectory.

Rev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

361 Pine St., Cedar Springs

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Speak Life

Grace-ChurchPastor Kevin Reed

Grace Evangelical Free Church

4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford

 

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” Proverbs 18:21 (NIV).

God has given us an amazing gift in the ability to communicate. As people created in His image, we have a unique privilege and responsibility that none of His other creation has. We have the ability to communicate in a way that none of His other creation can. We have been given the power of life and death, and we hold that power in our tongues. The old adage goes like this, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The bruises that come from sticks and stones may stay for a while, but they quickly fade and heal. But the wounds that are caused in our life by others, who use their tongues to speak death into our lives, end up affecting us and hurting us for years after they are spoken.

There is nothing neutral about our tongues. Either death or life, those are the only two possible outcomes from the use of our tongues. Every conversation that we have, every word uttered under our breath, and every word yelled in anger or frustration is either bringing life or death. From our bosses to our co-workers; from our spouses to our kids; from the gas station attendant to the checkout clerk at the grocery store—every time we open our mouths, either life comes out or death comes out. There is no such thing as a neutral word.

As God’s children, created in His image, we should strive to speak life. We should strive to not tear down others with our tongues but instead build them up. We should not be caught up in grumbling, complaining or criticizing, but instead we should strive to encourage, uplift and edify with every word that comes out of our mouth. God gives the power to us but the choice is up to you.

Are we using the gift that God gave us to bring death or life? Are we looking for ways to speak life into a world that is hurting all around us? Or are we caught in the great hypocrisy—a mouth that on Sunday praises our God but then throughout the rest of the week curses and drags down those who are made in His image and His likeness (James 3:9-10)? The choice is up to you; will it be death or life? The power is in your tongue. Speak wisely!

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