Your Powerful Tongue

Proverbs 18

Proverbs 18 21

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

Few phrases have been spoken more often and yet are so erroneous.

Words are certainly the weapon of choice for many, especially on the internet. And they hurt. And sometimes words can kill.

In 2000, Charity, a recent graduate of our local high school met some guys at a local mall. For reasons that defy common sense, she got to talking about her rich ex-boyfriend and how she was able to get around the home’s security system. Why was she telling these guys she just met all this? How does this come up in casual conversation? Was she bragging? Was she trying to appear tough? Regardless, the guys indicated they wanted to rob the place. She told these guys the family’s and the maid’s schedules and provided a layout of the property.

A few days later, she called her dad to ask him to pick her up from work. He told her to be careful because he had just heard on the news that there had been a triple murder near her workplace. According to court papers she “went into hysterics” and told a coworker she may be at fault.  She was eventually found guilty of accessory to murder and sentenced to 165 years in prison. (She was released 4 and 1/2 years later, but that’s another story.)

In Proverbs 18, like the chapters before and after, we see that our words are powerful. Verse 21 states that “the tongue has the power of life and death.”  Charity’s words brought death. I don’t know if she ever read Proverbs 18:5-7, but she certainly has lived them. Her words were partial to the wicked, denied the innocent justice, and then were a snare that trapped her, brought her strife, and invited a “beating” of sorts.

If you are reading the FUEL posts, I am confident that you are wise enough to guard your words. And I doubt any of you would ever say something to purposely lead to the death of another. I don’t even think you would purposely say anything to hurt anyone physically or emotionally. Continue to be mindful of your words.

Verse 21 also says that we will eat of the fruit of our words or receive the consequences of our words. If you are working on developing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) those fruits/consequences will be soft and safe, rather than sticks and stones.

Maria Knowlton

God Willing

Proverbs 16

Proverbs 16 3 4 NIV

Whenever I tucked him in, I would tell him I’d see him the next time I worked. He’d tell me, “God willing and the creek don’t rise!” He was about 80 years old, living in the nursing home where I worked. He had a lifetime of wisdom and colloquialisms.  I had not heard that phrase before meeting him but immediately appreciated the meaning.

Due to modern transportation infrastructure, rising creeks don’t ruin our plans as often as they used to. However, our lives, no matter how modern, are truly in God’s hands. Proverbs 16: 1, 3, 4, 9 and 33 specifically discuss the plans we make. No matter what we do and what we plan to do, God will ultimately guide these plans or even change them.

Verse 3 is a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve made plans I thought were for God, but they didn’t turn out the way I thought they should. They didn’t succeed, at least not in my mind. But in the very next verse it states that the LORD works out everything for His own ends. Sometimes I clearly see through hindsight how my failed plans served God.

But not every time, I’m still working through that. During a particularly hard time in my life, I defeatedly told my aunt that maybe I’d figure out WHY this all happened when I entered the kingdom. Her response was perfect. “And then it won’t matter.” WOW!!! What a gift! What a promise! Our dashed hopes and failed plans will fall away when we see Christ!!! Nothing else will matter!  Reading Revelation 21 makes me tear up with excitement!

In the meantime, God, through the proverbial writers, gives us instructions on the behaviors and plans that destroy (verses 4, 5, 18, 22, 25, 27-30) and the behaviors and plans that build up (verses 6, 8, 10-14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 32, and 32). Plan to build up others and glorify God!

One of the other reasons I appreciated and remembered “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” is because it reminds me of Dr. Joe Martin. Whenever he speaks of his plans, he adds, “God willing.” This is a sincere example of what trusting God with every area of life looks like.

I truly hope to see all of you at FUEL 2020.

God willing and the creek don’t rise!

Maria Knowlton

You Do You! or ?

Proverbs 14

Proverbs 14 12 NIV.png

“You do you!” This phrase is ubiquitous… I’ve seen it on social media, heard it on commercials,  and tween shows my daughter enjoys watching. I’ve even heard actual people say it directly to actual people. 🙂

On the face of it, it’s a pretty positive and encouraging phrase.  Don’t let others define you. Do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy! And that’s all great and wonderful…to a point. That point is the Holy Bible. You can totally do You if the You that you do is aligned with God’s word. The problem comes when your You goes with whatever you FEEL is right, rather than what you KNOW is scriptural.

Here in Proverbs 14 (especially in verse 12) we are reminded that so many of the things, thoughts, and actions we think are right, actually lead to destruction.

Proverbs 14:1 really hit me hard in this area. Unlike the wise woman building her house, I was letting my struggle with anger threaten mine. For a season, my anger was quick, hot, and in my mind, justified. I was right to be angry. I was being taken for granted, no one understood what I was going through, why was everything up to me???  I often felt the anger from my stomach up to my jaw.  Proverbs 14 repeatedly warns of the folly of anger (16, 17, 29) but I was choosing to follow my feelings over wisdom.

I thought I was right…but only because of the grace of God and a forgiving family, my “rightness” did not lead to destruction.

Everyone should evaluate their You. If doing You involves sin (Galatians 5:19-21), you must let that go. Christ goes even further to say that if we are to be his disciples, we must DENY ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him (Matthew 16:24).

When looking to Godly wisdom, such as found in Proverbs 14, You will start to look less like you and more like Christ. That is true wisdom.

So this song came out when I was 14 (1986). Having it tucked in my head has often helped me make choices to please God.

 

God Pleaser by Petra

So many voices telling me which way to go

So many choices come from those who think they know

There’s a way that seems right to a man

But it only brings him death

I want to go the way that leads to life

Till I draw my dying breath

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to have the wisdom to discern the two apart

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to do the things that please the Father’s heart

Some make a sacrifice and never let it show

Some make a point of letting everybody know

Some will live their lives as unto men

And they have their reward

I just want to do everything I do

With all my heart unto the Lord

I just want my life to glorify His Son

To make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done

No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done, well done”

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done”

 

devotion by Maria Knowlton

A Preserving Parable from Proverbs

Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13 4 NIV

Despite the fact that I’m an adult, I still occasionally give into peer pressure. Years ago, my friends were all into preserving fruits and vegetables, so I thought I should, too.  I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Not knowing what I was doing, I was happy to find the book, Canning for Dummies, at the local bookstore. Reading through the book, I realized that what makes the book “for dummies” was the use of the pedagogical tool, repetition. Every important step was printed in bold, circled, and repeated…repeatedly.

I suppose you can call Proverbs 13, “Wisdom for Dummies.”  The writer, inspired by God, wants the readers to take into consideration the differences between the wise, upright, righteous, and hardworking versus the foolish, wicked, and lazy.  In this chapter, 6 verses point out the rewards of being wise, 6 verses point out the rewards of being righteous, and 7 verses point out the rewards of being disciplined and hardworking.  Clearly the author believes these values to be highly prized and worth remembering. Thus, the repetition! Read it, Know it, Live it, Repeat. Hide these words in your heart.

It turns out preserving food is hard work and messy (maybe that’s just me). But it’s also very satisfying.  I feel great at the end of a day of canning. I also feel great months later when I serve my family home-preserved corn and green beans while it’s snowing outside. And because I’ve read Canning for Dummies so often and done it so often, I can tell you how to can green beans and blanch corn by heart.

Similarly, there is much satisfaction in learning and living the importance of wisdom, discipline, hard work and knowing it by heart.

Maria Knowlton