Monday, November 20, 2017

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

OK, so maybe Thumper’s little speech about “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” isn’t in the Bible but Proverbs 15 certainly has a lot to say to us about our speech.  In fact, nine of the thirty-three verses relate directly to the words we say. They seem to fall into three categories that are very instructive for taming our tongue and using it as an instrument for good.  Today’s study will look at the Content, the Tone, and the Timing of our words.  Getting these right will greatly cut down on arguments and misunderstandings, while drawing us closer to God and those around us.

Proverbs 15:23 (The Message)
Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!
    The right word at the right time—beautiful!

Things to think about:
·       Verses 1,2, 4, 7, 14, 23, 26, 28, and 29 all relate to how the righteous and the evil use speech to either build up or tear down
·      Of course, what you say matters!
o   Verse 2 - Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise; fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.
§  this verse is contrasting knowledge versus nonsense
o   When was a time someone shared godly wisdom with you that helped you think about an issue more from God’s perspective?
o   Have you ever been presented with “worldly wisdom” that you either immediately rejected or came to see for the nonsense it was?
o   What steps can we take to make sure we are offering God’s wisdom and not our own?
·      Clearly, how you say something is as important as what you say.
o   verse 1 – A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
o   verse 4 – Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim
o   How have you seen a gentle response defuse anger?
§  When have you seen a sharp tongue start a fight?
o   The words we choose and how we deliver them can make all the difference in the world.
§  Can you share a memory of when someone was able to perhaps deliver a hard message kindly and thus engender healing and help?
§  We can all feel the sting of a harsh word spoken harshly. Why is this not an effective way to strike back, especially if we’ve been hurt?
·      As the saying goes, timing is everything. Our intentions can be good, even our words and tone sincere, but if the other person isn’t ready to hear it, it can cause more harm than good.
o   Verse 23 – The right word at the right time, beautiful!
o   Why does timing matter so much?
§  What are cues we can use to ensure our timing is God’s timing?
o   When has someone said just the right thing at just the right time that made a big difference to you?
·      James 1:19 - Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. 
o   Which of our three areas that should govern are speech come more easily to you?  Which one is the biggest challenge?
·      Luke 6:45 - 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.
·      May we store God’s Word in our hearts, deal with others as gently as we have been dealt with, and save our words for when they can be of the greatest good.

Monday, November 6, 2017


If you’re an English Premier League soccer (football) fan, you will instantly recognize the initials YNWA.  They are forever associated with the greatest football club in the world J - Liverpool. YNWA is shorthand for the club’s motto, You’ll Never Walk Alone, taken from the song title in the musical CarouselJust before the beginning of each home match, it is sung by the supporters and it is generally regarded as one of the most moving experiences in world sports.  Its appeal is universal because life has many  hardships and it is very comforting to know that we aren’t in it alone.  Our verse for today comes from a time that was challenging for the Israelites and Joshua in particular.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Things to think about:
·       Can you recall a time when the events in your life conspired to make you feel alone? What was going on and why were you feeling that way?
·      Similarly, can you recall a time when somebody really stepped up and was there for you?
o   What did they do that was most meaningful to you?
·      Our verse starts of with the call to be strong and courageous.  I love this because Christianity is a manly faith. God wants us to be strong, to not shirk from challenges or disappointment, but to face them head on.
o   Who is someone you know (or know of) who has demonstrated this kind of strength and courage?
§  What do you admire the most about them?
·      Our passage says not to be afraid or terrified.  What are things that can cause that level of fear?
o   Loss of good health, an enemy, the sudden loss of income or finances, maybe a situation you feel ill-equipped to handle, the potential loss of a loved one, admission of a weakness, making a bad decision, being found out for a mistake one has made, death (and what happens after we die).
§  Do any of these resonate?
§  What else might be on this list?
·      Left to my own devices, all of the things listed above terrify me! There is so much that we don’t have control over and no one is immune to the tough challenges life hands out.
o   I remember the first Bible verse that jumped off the page to me was Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding but acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straights.
§  That is massively comforting to me knowing that it’s not my job to figure it all out but rather to lean on Him who cares about me.
·      Our verse goes on to say that “the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.”
o   Or according to the EPL version of the Bible, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
o   How do you sense God’s presence when circumstances stoke your fears?
§  How do you “lean in” to Him?
·      Before Jesus was crucified on the cross, He told His disciples that even though He was going to have to leave them, He was not going to leave them (or us) alone.
o   John 14:16-17a – “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.”
§  I think this is such good news! More than the Power of Positive Thinking, or “man up!” or anything else that puts the weight on me, we have Someone who is with us, even in us, to give us strength and courage when we need it the most.
·      You may be in the midst of tough times right now.  Be strong and courageous, Your Father goes with you. He is there and He will empower you to be triumphant.  Not only does this help you in your time of need but it serves as a signal to others who are, or will, go through difficulties themselves, that there is Someone who will ensure You’ll Never Walk Alone!