Words Are First Thoughts

We do not speak independently of our thoughts. Our thoughts are ruminations of our beliefs about ourselves, others, and our circumstances. In Psalm 15:1 David asked, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” His answer is our mandate as well. Verse 2 says, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.”

The only way we can speak truth in our heart is if the word of God is hidden there. Thoughts, words, and actions are like a braid. Our thoughts lead off, our words and actions follow. They are indistinguishably intertwined. That is the power in meditating on God’s word. It becomes integrated in our thoughts, words, and actions. That is the ‘work’ of righteousness. Meditating is the water that softens the calloused flesh-areas, like a potter uses water to soften the clay so it can be worked.

A hard, callous heart is impervious to God’s word. Impervious means that it doesn’t allow fluid to flow through it. A duck is impervious to water sticking on their back. They dip into the water and fully immerse. When they come back up the water runs off. Anyone can change. The Holy Spirit, our Change Agent, dwells within us. He leads us into truth that will set us free.

Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.” God’s word has been through the fires of time. When it is hidden in our heart, it will rise up to take us through our fiery trials. As the fire intensifies, our hidden dross is exposed. This is an essential part of our progressive sanctification. No child of God is exempt.

The work of righteousness conforms us to His image. It also purifies our words because it goes deep to permeate our thought processes. It is our heart that believes unto righteousness. Our mouth speaks what we believe. The Refiner watches for the dross of erroneous thoughts to come up. We confess them as sin and receive His cleansing. Then the Holy Spirit helps us renew our mind with truth that will take its place. May our heart-reservoir of thoughts please the Lord and bring Him glory.

Our Words Reveal Our Heart

Have you thought about where your words come from? Have you ever said things that you wish had not come out of your mouth? We eat the fruit of our lips. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The question that I asked myself: do I love the words that come out of my mouth?

Our heart is our belief center. Every experience we have ever been through affects our heart. It is like an imprint. Therefore what we believe about ourselves comes from our experiences. It shapes our perceptions. When we have negative experiences from our past, we may have beliefs that are negative.

That is the power of renewing our mind. No mind is set in concrete. Ephesians 4:23 Amplified says, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).” Only God’s implanted word can change toxic thought patterns in our brain. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

What are your thoughts about yourself? David wrote Psalm 139. If you haven’t read it lately I encourage you to do so. Verse 14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” This is a truth that I stand in. I have learned a lot about how God has designed our brains through my multiple brain injuries. Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

It doesn’t matter what we have been through in the past. What matters is do we believe what God says about us? If we don’t, that is an indication that we have derived our identity through our experiences. That brings us to salvation. Before we accepted the Lord as our Savior, we were alienated from Him. Cut off. No connection. No interchange. Ephesians 4:18 says, “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

Everything points back to your heart. God’s way is perfect. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Your heart is designed to be a reservoir of God’s word. Don’t fill it with toxic beliefs against yourself.

John 7:38 says, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” We are surrounded by thirsty unbelievers. Let us be water carriers that dispense life giving words. It all starts with a renewed mind about God’s purpose: He has no desire for anyone to perish.

What Are You Eating?

What fills your ‘plate’ spiritually, physically, and emotionally? I am reminded of Deuteronomy 8:3. The Lord gave the children of Israel manna that they had to collect daily. It was their sustenance for forty years! He has put a table before us that is overflowing with abundance. God’s word is His whole counsel. It is not just a verse here or there, but food that sustains our life.

I love Psalm 103:5 which says, “Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Proverbs 18:20 says, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.” What we ‘eat’ affects every aspect of our lives.

We are what we feast on. I learned this truth in a new way during a short term mission trip. The goats fed along the roadside which was strewn with trash. Goats will eat anything. The goat meat we were served, tasted just like what the goats were eating. Years ago, I sat down to eat a thanksgiving dinner with my friends. The turkey had cooked all night, and the house smelled wonderful. My host took his first bite of turkey and said, “Oh no!” You see, his turkeys had gotten into the sawdust! Emotional fillers have no nourishment for our spirit, though they certainly feed our flesh.

Psalm 37:3 says to feed on His faithfulness. The Lord is Faithful, and He has faithfully provided for us. Now I admit, there are passages in Scripture that I would rather not read. I’m in Judges now and there is a chapter that just infuriates me. Every time I come to it, I have to made an attitude adjustment. In Acts 20:27 Paul said, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” We know from Hebrews 5:12 that God’s word has milk and it has solid food.

Let me recap 2 Timothy 3:16. God’s word is profitable. It is nourishing. It fills us with truth that will set us free. His word instructs us in doctrine, which is the stability of our walk with the Lord. As we daily read His word, it will reprove our fleshly desires, and it will bring course-correction if we have veered off His chosen path. His word reveals His character. It is our standard of righteousness. We are called to emulate Him to those around us, and to the unseen principalities and powers. What we eat affects our thoughts. Our thoughts become our actions, then attitudes, and then habits.

Psalm 23 says that we have a Good Shepherd. He leads us into green pastures, that are lush and abundant. Then He makes us to lie down, to rest and ruminate on the word that we have read. He leads us beside still waters, that are clear and untroubled. He restores our soul, and He leads us into His chosen paths for our lives. Let us rise up and follow Him.

God’s Word Instructs

Consider these four truth together like a magnificent collage:

We are created to glorify the Lord

Apart from Him we can do nothing

He does in us what He has called us to do

Without faith it is impossible to please Him

(Isaiah 43:7, John 15:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Hebrews 11:6)

2 Timothy 3:16 Amplified says, “For every Scripture is God-breathed (given by inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, (and), for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).”

We can hear instruction, but unless we receive it in our heart, it will not be profitable. Romans 10:9 says that it is with the heart that we believe unto righteousness.

Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live…” We listen and hear through faith. A permeable heart is receptive.

Proverbs 2:1-2 says, “My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding.” The inclined ear receives. Incline means to listen attentively.

Proverbs 4:13 says, “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.” God’s word is our instruction book. It is only print on a page, unless we take it to heart and apply His words through our thoughts. Thoughts precede actions.

God’s word instructs us in righteousness. That is our holy calling. We cannot do it on our own. Yet, we have the Holy Spirit within who is our Teacher. Let us open our ears to hear and obey.

God’s Love Reforms

Here is a new song called The Cross

I will sing of Your mighty love. I will sing of Your grace. You are faithful and You are awesome in power. In mercy You redeemed me. In Your love You remained. The cross was Your death so I could live.

You took my place. You bore my sin. You came in humility and You died the same. O the wonder and the power as You laid Your life down for me. The cross was Your cruel punishment. Though You had no sin. It was my sin that nailed You. My sins were judged on the cross. You died for me to destroy the works of the enemy.

O I praise Your name and I rejoice in You. I bow in worship. I kiss Your feet of love. My heart melts within me enfolded in Your grace. Yes I will praise Your name. I will praise Your name forever.

Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” Psalm 40:2-3 says, “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth–praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”

Let me take us back to the Martin Luther Reformation. What happened? Martin Luther was reading God’s word. He was struck with truth that turned his understanding upside down. Salvation by grace alone. It was not by human effort, or any accomplishment. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

I am challenging myself as I challenge you. Let us read God’s word with an openness to be impacted with truth that will expose and uproot any hidden lies of the enemy. Joshua 1:8 says to meditate on His word so that we can observe to do it.

Let’s start with 1 John 2:15. It says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It speaks about emotional fillers. Remember, an emotional filler is anything that usurps the Lord’s place as Absolute Fulfiller in our heart. I have to work on this one, do you also?

I read my Voice of the Martyrs’ magazine. It was about Rolo, a former Guerrilla, who does not love the world. He daily denies his flesh to deliver Bibles to remote areas. He travels through the Guerrilla infested jungles of Colombia to remote areas, because he knows the territory so well from his former life. God’s love radically reformed Rolo. 

I am brought up short by his testimony of sacrifice for others. Here is the challenge from the VOM editor: ask God to lead you out of your comfort zone. May you prayerfully and boldly follow Christ into a decision, place, interaction or situation that requires you to deny worldly desires in order to glorify Him. I have written this prayer in my journal, and on a card taped to my cabinet. I encourage you to consider this prayer for yourself.

God’s Word Reforms

Josiah was eight years old when he became king. In his eighteenth year he had the temple repaired. They found the Book of the Law. In 2 Kings 22:10 it was read to Josiah. Verse 11 says, “Now it happened when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes.” In verse 13 he instructed five men to go and inquire of the Lord concerning what had been read to him. It says, “…for great is the wrath of the Lord…because our fathers have not obeyed…”

The five men went to Huldah the prophetess. She told them what the Lord said. Verse 18 says that He will bring great calamity. However verse 19 said that because Josiah’s heart was tender, and he humbled himself before the Lord when he heard the words, he tore his clothes, and he wept: he would not see the calamity in his day.

Let’s go back to Hezekiah. When he heard that calamity was coming, he was happy that it wouldn’t affect him in his day. Josiah received the same type of words, but he instantly humbled his heart. He went right to work to restore true worship. 2 Kings 23:3 says, “Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, “…And all the people took a stand for the covenant.” Josiah’s example influenced God’s people.

Josiah then commanded his servants to clean out the temple of all the idolatrous things. I love verse 12 which says, “…the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron.” He left nothing! That reminded me of Psalm 18:42. Here is David’s declaration of his enemies. “Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets.”

2 Kings 23:25 says, “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.” Josiah brought radical reform, because he heard God’s word and put it into action.

Does God’s word affect us the same way? When we read it does it so shake us that we instantly humble our heart? Does what we read bring reformation of our character? Consider this: if it doesn’t, then does the Lord bring trials specifically designed to affect our heart which affects our walk? Romans 5:3 says that our trials produce perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope. I’m still thinking about this.

Consider What You Are Praying For

Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah: each of these men were kings over Judah. That was God’s design. However they did not all walk in the ways of the Lord.

Hezekiah was sick unto death. He pleaded with the Lord, and the Lord gave him another fifteen years. An envoy came from Babylon to visit Hezekiah. Hezekiah proudly showed them everything in his kingdom.

God sent Isaiah with a word that said Babylon would come and carry everything away. Hezekiah’s reaction? 2 Kings 20:19 says, “…The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good! For he said, Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?” He had no regard for Judah’s future.

Years ago, a friend of mine was facing heart surgery. He asked Jack to pray for his life to be spared. Jack wisely said: consider what you are asking. Remember Hezekiah and Manasseh. His surgery was successful and he lived out his life faithfully serving the Lord.

Manasseh took over his father’s throne when he was twelve years old. That means he was born during Hezekiah’s extended fifteen years. He was a very evil king. He rebuilt all the idolatress things that his father had torn down. 2 Kings 21:16 says, “…Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another…” That sounds like our country with abortions.

We are called to follow God’s designed path for our lives. Ours will be different from others, because it was specifically designed by God before He placed us in the womb. The Lord asked Moses what was in his hand. What has the Lord placed in your hand that He wants to use to bring glory to His name?

When we pray, we need to consider what we are asking. James 4:3 is a warning to us. It says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Emotional fillers sneak in. They fill our senses so that our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading is dulled. Hebrews 5:4 says that our discernment is sharpened as we mature. Ingesting the solid food from His word increases our appetite to choose His will over ours.

Nothing Can Thwart God’s Plans

King Ahaz took the throne when he was twenty years old. He not only walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, he made his sons pass through fire! The Lord spared his son Hezekiah. He became king when he was twenty-five. His mother must have been the one to train up Hezekiah in the ways of the Lord. Her father was an evil king, and so was her husband.

2 Kings 18:5 says, “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.” That is quite a commendation. Hezekiah removed the high places, broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that the children had turned into an idol.

The king of Assyria threatened to seize Jerusalem. Watch what Hezekiah did. 2 Kings 19:14 says, “And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” Then he prayed. He implored the Lord to save them from his hand. God sent the prophet Isaiah. Verse 20 says, “…Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.”

The Lord always hears. David declared that in Psalm 17:6. It says, “I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.” Here is how God handled the Assyrian king. 2 Kings 19:35 says, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses–all dead.” 185,000!

Nothing is impossible for God. No plan can thwart His purpose in your life. God is the Sovereign Ruler over all. Our responsibility is to trust Him and to explicitly obey His commandments. That is where the children of Israel failed. They heard His commandments very clearly, yet they disobeyed. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Strategic Planning

After Solomon and the 12 tribes split, there was a common thread. Jeroboam built an altar that caused Israel to sin. Thereafter. it was said of the succeeding kings: he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam…who made Israel sin.

We need to strategically plan to not carry on the sins of the generations before us. Paul wrote about this in 2 Corinthians 12:14. It says, “…For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”

The context was his spiritual children in the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 4:15 says, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Jesus had 12 disciples. They multiplied themselves. Acts 1:15 says that there were about 120 disciples. Acts 2:41 says that about three thousand souls were added in one day.

What are you leaving your physical and spiritual children? I noticed as I read about the two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, they were called ‘my father.’ Discipleship is a one on one ministry. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 says, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”

Discipleship requires parenting skills. Paul used both parental characteristics of a father and mother. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The children of Israel turned to other gods which kept them ensnared.

Every believer has a responsibility to the gospel. We are called to make disciples. That means that we have to invest into another’s heart. When we fail to fulfill this responsibility, we will turn to emotional fillers which cannot profit.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” Thoughts. Everything in our lives revolves around our thoughts. I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you who He wants you to disciple.