Speak the Truth in Christ

When Paul wrote to the churches in Rome, he said, “I speak the truth in Christ.” Do I, like Paul, speak the truth in Christ? If not, what am I speaking? Do my words reflect an accurate or a warped perception of reality?

“I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 9:1

The Holy Spirit works through a tender conscience to bring personal revelation about the matter. How are my words misaligned with the truth found in Christ?

As I read that little phrase this morning in Romans, I paused and mediated upon every word. “I . . . speak . . . the truth . . . in Christ.” I’m not sure if the Holy Spirit halts you like He does me, but this morning was just such a day.

I couldn’t help but ask, “Do I?” The honest answer came, “Not always!”

The writer of Proverbs refused to be silent about the influence of our words. “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life (10:11),” and “the tongue of the wise is health (12:18).” Then 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

God clearly desires us to understand that our words contain the hidden potential to bring life and healing.

Powerful Words

Many seniors occupy the condo where we live. Often their conversation turns to physical alignments plaguing their aging bodies. Although I try to add light to the conversation, they will often return to negative banter.

In talking about our attitude, John Hopkins say,

“What is clear, however, is that there is definitely a strong link between “positivity” and health. Additional studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions — including traumatic brain injury, stroke, and brain tumors.”

I recently read about a heart specialist who refuses to perform surgeries on patients with a negative attitude, saying, “Too many die during the procedure.”

Can words influence our health? Studies show that negative words release catabolic hormones into our bodies that proceed to actually break the physical body down. On the other hand, positive words release anabolic hormones which help to heal and rejuvenate our bodies.

God affirms in the Bible what science is recently discovering.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Proverbs 18:21

Power is the word yad, meaning “in the hand of” or “under the direction of.”

Words of Life

When we speak the truth in Christ, we literally speak words of life over not just our physical bodies, but over destinies as well. It remains critical to our health, both physically and spiritually, to agree with what God says about us?

Is God saying, “You can!” while we mutter, “I can’t, it’s too hard, or that’s impossible?” Is God saying, “You are able!” while we protest, expounding on our inadequacies?”

I find the quickest way to steer the words of mouth into truth is through declarations of God’s Word. Let me use Romans 6 as an example. Paul reminds us that since we have been united with Christ in both His death and His resurrection we are now free from the confines of the past and free to confidently approach our future. He uses the symbolism of baptism to illustrate his point.

With my words, I declare this living reality.

“What shall I say then? Shall I go on sinning so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! Because of baptism I have died to sin in every way and can no longer live according to the patterns of my past. Every old way of thinking, speaking, and reacting has been buried with Him in baptism. I don’t have to eat that, smoke that, think that, say that, or do that old thing anymore. Christ has set me free, totally free, through His death and resurrection!!!
I am united with Christ in His resurrection — no longer a slave to or controlled by sin, but alive to everything that brings life, healing, and hope. My destiny and future is determined by Him alone. Because I am united with Christ, He makes all things possible for me. I have come to obey from my heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed my allegiance. I have been set free from every destructive way and become a bondservant of righteousness. Righteousness reigns within every part of my thinking and behavior. I am alive, forever alive, in Christ!”

I encourage you to read the whole chapter to understand the full message. As you read it out loud, speak it over your life, your family, and your situation. There is nothing magical as we form God’s Word into personal declaration, but something extremely significant occurs as we align our thoughts with His, and speak the truth in Christ.

Accountability

I can’t tell you how often, I have prayed with someone for healing and watched them receive a significant touch from the Lord. Even before they leave, however, negative patterns of speaking begin to undermine what God has radically done for them.

“It comes and goes, you know. Maybe it isn’t God’s will to heal me.” Through words of doubt, they keep the door open for sickness and disease to continue to harass them.

Other times, people receive a healing with thanksgiving and joy. They declare the things God has done with those around them. Their words align with God’s and their healing is secured as they speak the truth in Christ.

God has placed people in my life who hold me accountable by what I say. If I slip into degrading self-talk, usually jokingly, they call me on it. When I set my direction to accomplish a goal, they follow my progress and prod me on if necessary. If I’m attempting to overcome a problem, they make sure I see it through to completion. Accountability also keeps me from speaking careless words.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
Matthew 12:36

Careless come from the Greek word argos meaning “inactive, unemployed, useless, barren, nonworking, and unprofitable.” Argos represents the opposite of speaking the truth in Christ.

Speak the Truth in Christ

As we speak the truth in Christ our words become action-packed, employing the power of God, useful for His purposes, reproducing godly fruit, working God’s intention within and around us, and profitable for the expansion of His Kingdom.

Just as careless or idle words destroy, God-inspired words build.

Tim Sheets, in his book Planting the Heavens (page 159), says,

” . . . God wants to give us the desires of our heart, but it’s our responsibility to steer our lives toward that desire with our words.”

Jesus repeated the words of Scripture found in Deuteronomy when He said,

” . . . Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

As we speak the truth in Christ, we align ourselves with “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s desire and our heart’s desire come together, steering our lives with God-breathed words.

God-Breathed Words

This is a continual process as we endeavour to match our words with His. Whether our vocabulary needs a minor tweek or a major overhaul, let’s continue to speak the truth in Christ. God alone knows what transformational change might await us as we do.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14

“God fill our mouths with words agreeing with Your words of declaration over us, our families, and our communities. May Holy Spirit guide our use of words so that we may live with clear consciences before You. We desire to speak life-given, kingdom-advancing words. Anoint our tongues as mouthpieces for Your glory and praise. Amen.”

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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!

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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!

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