"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." - Ephesians 4:29 NIV
I haven't blogged the last three days but today's verse pretty much covers what I've been studying. It's all been about how I speak and what I say. To God, to myself and to others.
Talking to God: In my Life group, we are in week 5 of an 8-week study on prayer. It's been an amazing study! It's been eye-opening and has helped me so much in my daily prayers. I'm sure some of you have heard of using a formula called A.C.T.S. (or C.A.T.S.) which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. But this was new to me. I've been applying it to my prayers the last several weeks and it has begun to change the way I talk to God. I always thanked Him for His blessings and asked for forgiveness of my sins and asked for the things I needed or wanted but this has brought a whole new level into my prayer life. To lift up praise and worship to God first, which is as is should be, is wonderful. The facilitator of our study gave us several pages of verses of praise in the Bible and also a list of the many, many names of God and Jesus found in the Bible. I've been using these pages to praise and worship Him and it gives me such joy and peace when I do that. And confession of my sins, not just saying, "I did this, Lord, please forgive me." but actually naming my sins, saying they are sins and then saying that I know they have been forgiven - I'm still learning how to do this. But it's getting easier and it has made me much more aware of my actions each day. The thanksgiving part has always come easy...I have been so blessed by God. But the supplication or asking - James 4:2b NIV says, "You do not have because you do not ask God." So true!! I am still in the process of learning how to ask and believing that He will answer my prayers but it's becoming a major part of my talking with God.
Talking to myself: I don't know about you, but I do talk to myself. Sometimes to build up confidence: "You can do this! What are you waiting for?". Sometimes to restrain myself: "Don't respond to that. It will just cause problems.". Sometimes to rebuke myself: "You idiot! What did you do, eat or say that for?". Sometimes for self-control: "Go get your Bible study done before you do anything else!". Of course, all of these conversations happen in my head, although I have rebuked myself out loud a few times! My thoughts control me and there are many times when I'm not disciplined in my thoughts. I can convince myself that a third piece of chocolate won't hurt, that skipping one day of Bible study isn't a big deal, that reneging on a promise is okay. But the extra food does hurt - my clothes start getting too tight because I'm putting on weight. Skipping a Bible study is a big deal - Satan gets a foothold when I'm not disciplined in this area. Reneging on a promise isn't okay - it hurts the person I made the promise to. I am asking God to guide me each day in disciplining my thoughts and what I say to myself. "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:5b NIV. Not easy to do but it's what God expects.
Talking to others: I can easily displease God in this area. Especially when I'm angry. I no longer say curse words, not that I ever did a lot of cursing, but, boy I can still tear someone down when I'm angry. Dennis will testify to the truth of this!! Unfortunately, he's usually the one at the brunt of my words. This is an area of my life that I am in constant prayer about. Through talking with God and reading His Word, I am learning to call on Jesus when I'm feeling angry or irritated with someone. I am learning to bite my tongue and not say anything when I feel Satan pushing me to tear someone down. It's not a battle I always win but it's one I know God is helping me with. I can honestly say I am more encouraging when I speak to others than I used to be. And that's only because of God...not anything I've done on my own.
Talking is a major part of our lives. We do it daily and constantly, even when we're silent. Words can help or they can hinder. When I rely on God's guidance in this area, it not only strengthens my relationship with Him, but also with myself and others. I pray we all become more aware of what comes out of our mouths today.
"Remember that the tongue speaks only what is in the heart." - Theodore Epp
Heavenly Father, I know I will be judged by the words I speak. Please help me to choose my words carefully, especially when I'm angry. May I continue to talk with You daily and constantly. May the words I speak to myself and to others be encouraging and not a hindrance. Guide me to hold my tongue and turn to You when I feel Satan pushing me to speak harshly. I desire to become more aware of what I say and how I say it. May the words I speak today be pleasing to You and worthy of You. In Jesus' name, Amen.