A Time to be Silent and a Time to Speak

Thankfully God gave me two ears and only one mouth! Given that ratio I should be listening twice as much as speaking. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, God positioned my mouth visibly in front!

Charles Wesley wrote a great hymn called, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Honestly, at times I have trouble managing one tongue, let alone a thousand! Only what goes in through the ears comes out through the mouth!

Democracy attempts to give equal voice to poor and rich, unknown or famous, young as well as old. Though I reside in a democratic nation I actually attempt to live from Kingdom of God principles. A kingdom is not democratic!

Tongue talk!

Lately my King Jesus has been pinpointing some of my speaking problems. Sometimes the issue is a shortage of words; other times it is the type of words resonating from my lips that create the difficulty.

Advice to a King

This morning I read a mother’s advice to her kingly son. Listening to your mother is always important! When such advice is in the bible, it deserves even greater attention!

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9

Many segments of our society are “voiceless”, and easily ignored, even in a democracy.

Silenced by fear and intimidation,
bullied into the shadows,
multitudes know
the censorship of accusation,
manipulation and control.

The cost of speaking up can be extremely high! Who will speak for the unborn, the elderly, the intellectually disabled, the ones without home or identity? The challenge reaches beyond a king’s son to each of us.

The Problem

The bible speaks on numerous occasions admonishing the importance of listening. In many instances silence is the wiser, more excellent, way! Here is a sampling:

  • Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalms 141:3

  • “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
    but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

  • “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
    Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19

  • “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27

Silence!

There is just reason for such encouragement! I will spare you the details of my personal tongue wagging when silence would have been appropriate. Understanding combined with grace contribute of listening well.

Silence arises either from the womb of wisdom or the tomb of shame? The first releases life; the second is a dark prison.

“There is a time for everything
…a time to be silent
and a time to speak,”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

A Time to Speak

When is the right time to speak? And how? Solomon offers sound advice:

“…the wise heart will know
the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time
and procedure for every matter.”
Ecclesiastes 8:5-6

Jesus said,

“A good man brings good things
out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For the mouth speaks
what the heart is full of.”
Luke 6:45

Speak up!

My tongue may be situated close to my brain, but it is inseparably connected to my heart! If I’m having trouble with my tongue, the heart, not diction, is the real issue.

  • “When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

  • “Like apples of gold in settings of silver
    is a ruling rightly given.” Proverbs 25:11

  • “Let your conversation be always full of grace,
    seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

  • “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply 
    and how good is a timely word!
    Proverbs 15:23

The Power of Words

Words hold incredible power

to forgive and restore,
build and encourage,
impart wisdom and share knowledge,
inspire and motivate,
teach and train.

At times, wordless voids create deafening silence. A silence leaving others feeling unloved, unwanted, insignificant, used, or shunned. The right words validate, show respect, affirm and cherish. They sooth wounds and minister healing. Well spoken words bring understanding, lift burdens, and ease pain. They release permission to dream, aspire, and hope. Words powerfully protect the weak and ensure justice prevails.

“If anyone sins
because they do not speak up
when they hear a public charge
to testify regarding something
they have seen or learned about,
they will be held responsible.”
Leviticus 5:1

Responsibility!

Silence is not always an option! Failure to use our voice has eternal consequences!

Responsibility

The most important message we have is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes”. Many have misquoted Francis of Assisi as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

Actually, he was advocating for words and actions to accurately reflect each other. Look what Francis of Assisi modelled:

(He) clearly spent a great deal of time using his words when he preached,
“sometimes preaching in up to five villages a day, often outdoors.
In the country, Francis often spoke from a bale of straw
or a granary doorway. In town, he would climb on a box
or up steps in a public building. He preached to . . .
any who gathered to hear the strange
but fiery little preacher from Assisi.”

Paul asks his Roman readers a relevant question,

But how can they call on him
to save them unless they believe in him?
And how can they believe in him
if they have never heard about him?
And how can they hear about him
unless someone tells them?

Romans 10:14

Ears to hear!

We have both voice and influence. Daily there is opportunity to share our personal stories of faith with others. These simple heartfelt words may be the channel God uses to bring someone into faith in Jesus Christ.

No Greater Joy

A young woman excitedly shared how she through faltering prayer, lead a friend into personal relationship with Jesus. Her own conversion to faith is fresh; her bible knowledge limited. One thing she knows — Jesus is worth it all!

Tears of joy and gratitude streamed down her face as she spoke. This experience of witnessing someone come to Christ has trumped her Christian experience. Well it should!

Yet mixed with tears of joy were also tears of sadness as she exclaimed, “Why didn’t someone tell me? Why did I have to wait until I was over thirty years old to hear about Jesus? How different my life would have been if someone would have shared Jesus with me sooner!”

There is no greater joy!  With equal enthusiasm heaven and earth should celebrate when a sinner comes home!

“In the same way, I tell you,
there is rejoicing in the presence
of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:7

Ducks in a row!

We don’t need all our spiritual “ducks in a row” with impeccable theology or living in holy perfection to be effective voices for the Kingdom of God. God looks for the willing!

Voices willing to speak
when hearts are tender;
voices willing to challenge
when injustice rises.

Today I’m praying for the right words combined with boldness to speak them! The results are up to God! I can hardly wait to see what He will do!

**********

 

 

 

 

Prayer – A Personal Invitation None Should Refuse

There can be huge gaps between our knowing and doing when it comes to prayer. I hope we are like Jesus’ disciples honestly asking Him to teach us in this area.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1

The disciples were not unfamiliar with praying. After all, these were Jewish boys. They would already have been taught principles and patterns for prayer. Some were originally followers of John who also taught on prayer.

So what made the prayers of Jesus so different from every other prayer they had heard to this point?

That remains my question, too!

Humble Beginnings

When I first became a Christian I wasn’t allowed the privilege of a bible or the liberty to attend a church. Without these two key elements in my life, prayer became my sustaining force. I had no “spiritual” mother or father to pattern from or teach me.

I knew God was real. Not just real from a distance, but real in my life. Instinctively I knew He wanted to be involved and connected to every part.

The Father’s Love

I heard someone say once, “The steadfast love of the Lord is your compass point.” His unfailing love is the “true north” that is the guiding light for all disciplines.

No one loves as deeply as the Heavenly Father!

The Father's Love

“Because of the LORD’s great love
we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself,
“The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

In the Lord’s prayer Jesus is giving us more than a verbal pattern. He is demonstrating that prayer is to be in the context of relationship to God as a loving Father and Friend. (Luke 11:1-13)

Two Ways

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself? I have! Gets boring really fast!

Prayer is simply conversation with the Father. That means there are moments of both listening and speaking when we pray. Prayer has two directions, us to the Father and the Father to us.

Listen Speak

As with most conversations, it is helpful if I listen first and speak second. Listening begins as I mediate on The Word of God. Faith rises as a scripture comes to mind and I sense Him nudge me, “Try this one“.

“For God does speak–now one way, now another – though no one perceives it.”
Job 33:14

I guess I’m not the first one to have trouble with this two-way conversation thing of prayer!

The Holy Spirit

I’m so thankful the Holy Spirit is there to help us in learning process.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:26

Many times we can be uncertain to know just how to pray…

when words don’t come easy or thoughts unravel,
when the heart aches
as you circle a mountain of despair
one more time…
Holy Spirit steps in both for us and with us. We’re not alone.

God Answers Prayer

I know what I have written is only the beginning concepts of prayer – simple grounding principles. Another fundamental to be added is an assurance that God delights to answer.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Luke 11:9

My first prayer for you today is for you to have a new confidence to hear and receive from God. The second is that prayer would become so filled with special prayer moments that your life becomes a continuous flow of listening, talking and receiving from God. Lastly, may prayer become an amazing opening into a new adventure with The One who longs to spend time with you.

Prayer

Today may you hear Jesus say to you, “Come!

__________

If you want to be sure to never miss a blog, sign up here and be part of our growing list of subscribers.

__________