Real Power

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.     Psalm 19:14 (NLT)

Lectionary texts: Proverbs 1:20-33, Psalm 19, James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38

One of the first things I learned when I began my nursing career at the age of 14 (I was a volunteer called a Candy Striper.) was that everyone, doctors, nurses, technicians, everyone who works in the medical profession has something that gives their stomach a roll. It can be a smell or a certain part of the anatomy that’s cut open or – well, never mind – that’s graphic enough and I know you understand what I mean! For me it was the mouth. Bad breath has always been worse than other smells for me. And when I got to microbiology in nursing school and learned the kind of “critters” that grow in our mouths – well, ewwwww! This week’s texts are all about my mouth. It is time to do some cleaning.

Proverbs 1. The writer of Proverbs gives the purpose and theme of the whole book in this first chapter. It is about getting Wisdom. Wisdom is personified as out there on the streets trying to get me to listen and not be taken in by the enticements of sin. Wisdom cries out to warn of disaster but is ignored for the “shiny things” of this world. If I choose to be disobedient, if I choose to ignore Wisdom that will draw me closer to my LORD, then I will be left to connect with my folly and reap the consequences of that.

James 3. This passage of Scripture is well known and well preached, as is the Mark passage. My tongue is one of the smallest muscles in my body and yet it has great power to wound, even kill. Just like the microscopic critters in my mouth can turn and become debilitating, even an infection that can kill, the tongue can bruise and kill the spirit of myself and someone else. I was thinking last night how phrases play over and over in my head. Like the sound of a whip striking over and over, a voice that reminds me of my mistakes, my shortcomings, yes, even my sins, over and over and over and over again is not God speaking. God’s Spirit will convict or tell me my sin but God is in the restoration business. Once I hear the conviction of His Spirit and acknowledge that this is true, God is about restoring me and moving me on in the repentant, or changed direction. He does not want me stuck in some muddy pit to drown in my sin but instead wants me up and clean and moving on. And so should my speech be to others: encouraging, restoring, and uplifting.

Mark 8. This passage of the Gospel shows how God can speak His truth even through one who may be seen as unlearned by the world and unrecognized by Church leadership. Peter was not an educated man nor was he a member of the church leadership like the Sanhedrin with its crowd of Pharisees. And yet when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?,” Peter spoke up with the perfect answer, “You are the Messiah!” Matthew 16 adds that Jesus acknowledges that Peter’s wisdom came as a revelation from God Himself.

Joshua told us thousands of years ago to make a choice today who we will serve (Joshua 24:14-15). And that is a good prayer to start every day. “LORD, I choose to serve You today.” And then let my day be just a continuous time of prayer, conversation with God. Ask God for wisdom, before I make decisions, before I open my mouth to speak to someone, as I move through the day. I can not “tame my tongue” in my own strength but the Holy Spirit has a strong enough leash! And may I be open to God’s infusion of that “word” that may allow me to proclaim the truth of who Jesus is to a world (one person at a time) that is desperately starving for the Truth.

Here I Am, LORD written by Daniel L. Schutte (1981)


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