22452.0 Why Did I Say That?

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:33-35)

No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8)

Do you ever wonder why you said something you didn’t mean? Have you ever tried to say only good things and find that you curse when you get mad? Have you prayed that God would stop you from saying bad things and yet you can’t seem to find success in the area of your tongue? What is the source of all these hurtful words? Your tongue…or is it? 

Matthew tells us that you can judge the tree by its fruit. If the tree is bad, you will get bad fruit. But if the tree is good, it will produce good fruit. To change the fruit you need to go back to the tree and treat it. The same thing applies to our words. Matthew also tells us that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”. If we have a problem with our speech, it won’t be found in the tongue. That is the end result. We have to go back to the source of our speech, which is rooted in the heart. 

Dr. Sam Peeples said it best, “What’s down in the well…comes up in the bucket”. We speak angry words because we have an angry heart. We lash back with hurtful words because we are hurt. Since no man can tame his tongue, we need God’s help. Only He can tame our tongues. If we want to speak kind and loving words, we need to clean up the toxic source. When we clean up our hearts by confessing our anger to God, He can then give us the fruit of the Holy Spirit to fill its place. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). What a difference our words would make when they are rooted in a heart controlled by the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean that you deny being hurt. That would be deceitful. It means that you recognize that you are hurt, and then hand the hurt over to God. Forgive the other person for hurting you, and ask God to fill you with His love for that person. When you speak to them after that, your words will be rooted in love not anger. 

Listen to your words today and be honest with yourself. If you really want to have words that lift other people up, you need to examine your heart for any sin that is lurking. Clean it up so that the overflow that comes out of your heart will be a refreshing spring. If you need help from God’s word, take some time to read the book of Proverbs. Underline every verse that talks about our words or tongue. God has a lot to say about what we say and how we say it.

22452.1 Charming and Pouting

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:2-3)

Do you love being around charming people? Have you ever thought about the definition of charming? It really has two different angles to it. The first definition is the expression of genuine pleasure or delight. The other is to deceive and pretend pleasure or delight. In either case the behavior is the same; the motive is quite different. When people are deceptively charming, they are usually trying to get something from the other person. 

Children are masters of charm when they are trying to get something from their parents. We have all used charm to our advantage at some point in our lives to get what we want. What happened when you didn’t get what you wanted? Were you still as charming, or did you yell or even go off and pout? Many of us pout or give the other person the silent treatment, even as adults. When a child yells and cries we call it a tantrum. What do you call it when an adult does the yelling? It’s still a tantrum. 

Why in the world do we act so childishly as adults? We’re supposed to be mature and beyond that kind of behavior …or are we? One reason that we yell or pout is because it worked for us as a child and it still works now. The other reason is that anger and wrath are still a part of our sinful nature. 

In the Corinthians verses above Paul asks the question, “Are you not acting like mere men”? The word “mere” can be translated as unchanged or unsaved. Paul is saying here that when we act out of our sinful nature, we are acting like people who are not saved by Jesus Christ. We are worldly versus being spiritual. We can see examples of worldly behavior all around us. Paul tells us that when we are experiencing jealousy, arguments, or strife that we are in our flesh and not controlled by the Holy Spirit. 

How do we go from being childish to spiritually mature? We need to go to God and confess our childish behavior and then get fed. As a baby we needed milk, but as adults we are ready for solid food. It’s time to grow up and stop doing what our flesh wants. God gives us what we need to grow, the Spirit and His Word. That’s the diet we need to be healthy and strong spiritually. 

Start feeding on the solid food of the Word of God. Have you had your solid food today? You need good nourishment to be strong. Take a moment right now to read your Bible and set aside your childish ways.

22452.2 Are You a Grudge Slave?

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Have you ever had a grudge against someone only to find out later they didn’t even know you were mad at them? How many hours of silent pouting and energy did you waste? How many sleepless nights passed as you replayed the offense against you? Maybe you think you are punishing them by holding onto the grudge. Yet, you are the one losing sleep, not them. Some people have been holding grudges for years against people they never saw again. A grudge hurts you and makes you a slave to the person you refuse to forgive. 

Jesus tells us how to get past grudges against others. The Matthew verses above are really an explanation of a portion of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12 where Jesus tells us to “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Jesus then explains this principle in verse 14 saying, “…if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Jesus is not teaching here that people earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving others, for this would be a contradiction to God’s free grace and mercy. However, if we have truly experienced God’s forgiveness and understand how much God has forgiven us, then we will be willing to forgive others. 

On the other hand, in verse 15 Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” If someone has a hard time forgiving another person, do they really understand God’s grace and mercy to them? Do they see themselves as having been saved from death by His grace? 

If you are a person who has a hard time extending grace to others and forgiving, a question to ask yourself is this: Do I really believe that all my sins are forgiven by God? 

Colossians 2:13 tells us, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” 

“All” means “the whole amount, the total sum”…All! Thank God today for His mercy and grace to you in forgiving all your sins. Then ask Him to show you anyone you need to forgive in order to get rid of your grudge. Sleep well!

22452.3 Why Should I Forgive?

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44, NKJV)

It is no surprise to any of us that we need to forgive others. If we know we are to do it, why is it so hard? Why do we always want to tell our side? Why do we always argue our case as the exception to scripture’s command on forgiveness? Is there an exception, a time when we don’t have to forgive? 

You can search a long time and you won’t find a command to NOT forgive. God is very clear to His children. In the Matthew verse above we find four different ways that people can hurt us. They are our enemies; they curse us, hate us, and spitefully use us or persecute us. That covers just about all the bad things that people can do to us. Yet, what does God tell us to do? We are to love, bless, do good, and pray for these people. Our natural instinct is to get angry, be bitter, brawl, and slander them. The Ephesians verse tells us that we need to get rid of all of those things. The next command is to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. Why? Because that is what Jesus Christ did for us…He forgave. 

If we understand what Jesus did for us, we will be giving the same gift to each other. Just in the same way that we did not deserve the wonderful gift we received, we can give the same gift of forgiveness to those who have harmed us. Guess what? The gift goes both ways. We give the gift of forgiveness to the other person, but you receive the freedom that forgiving gives you. You are literally let out of the prison that unforgiveness puts you in. Forgiveness is the key to your freedom. 

Unforgiveness shackles you to the person you won’t forgive. You drag them and the resentment you feel around all day long like a ball and chain. If you have more than one person that you refuse to forgive, you will find, after awhile, that you are very tired. Unforgiveness is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to carry around grudges. Are you ready to walk in freedom? 

Take some time to sit down and evaluate your relationships. Can someone walk into the room and ruin your day? Is there someone you refuse to see or call because they have hurt you and you have not dealt with your heart in the matter? Do it today. Before you call, call upon the Lord. Forgive them as Jesus forgave you, and then you are ready to make that call. 

22452.4 How Can I Forgive?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?… You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3, 5)

Are you ready to let go of your long list of reasons that justified your anger and bitterness towards the person who wronged you? It might be pretty old by now. Maybe you’ve hung onto it so long that the pages are yellowed and worn. It has almost become an old friend to comfort you when you are down. Unfortunately, that is how some people view their list of justifications. When they are depressed and wonder why they feel so bad, they go back and reread the list and then say to themselves, “No wonder I feel so bad, look what they did to me!” The problem with that thinking is that you need to do that quite often because the depression comes back quicker each time. You found a little relief, but not a real cure. 

God has the cure for the misery you have been carrying around. It doesn’t matter how long you have had it or how severe the offense was against you. Matthew tells us that we need to stop trying to remove the small speck of sawdust in the other person’s eye until we remove the large plank in our own eye. We can become so consumed with the sin of the other person that we can’t see the sin in our own life. God calls us a hypocrite when we do that! When we focus on the long list of things that they did to us, we never stop to think of the list of offenses against us. The only way we can forgive is to see that we are sinners too, when compared to a Holy God. We need to understand that we will each stand before God alone and He is not interested in our list of grievances. He already knows what we have been through. He wants us to clean up our hearts so that He can use us in the other person’s life. He can’t use us when we are burdened down with sin. There is no room for both sin and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our heart. We have to let go of our sin and then we can be filled. We need to remove the plank! 

Plank Removal: Take a piece of paper and make two columns. On the left side make a list of all the things that others have done against you. On the right side of the page make a list of all of your wrong responses to the things that were done to you. (Anger, nagging, bitterness, revenge, etc.) Ask God to forgive you for each wrong response on the right side thanking Him for the forgiveness that He freely gives you. Now forgive each person for specifically what they did to hurt you. Take your list and shred it. You will no longer need it. Use this tool regularly to keep your heart cleaned up and ready to be used by God.

Other Resources:

Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

22452.5 Are You Angry?

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice. (Colossians 3:8)

Anger is universal. Everyone across the world has been angry at some time in their life. You can vent it, stuff it, or deny it; or you can get rid of it. Every day you can watch the news and see how anger is at the bottom of rage on the road, in the air, in the schools, at work, and worst of all, in our homes. How do you know if you are angry? Anger can vary in intensity from mild annoyance that is hardly noticeable to extreme rage. Most people know if they are angry, but sometimes we overlook the more subtle forms of anger. 

A grudge, recalling a negative incident from the past, is a form of anger. Other words people use that really are a form of anger include annoyed, wounded, frustrated, or dissatisfied. Most people would agree that unrestrained anger can destroy you, but they don’t always agree with how to tame it. Once again you have a choice: to handle your anger the way the world does or in the way God tells us to handle it.

1 Peter 2:1 – ”Rid yourselves of all malice.”

Ephesians 4:31 – “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

Proverbs 14:17 – “A quick-tempered man does foolish things.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9 – “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

James 1:20 – “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

Psalm 37:8 – “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”

Proverbs 16:32 – “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”

How can a human being who naturally responds angrily to people and circumstances change from responding in anger to responding in love? This is humanly impossible. It takes a miracle. You need supernatural help which you can only get from God.

Here are 3 basic steps you can use to help you deal with anger God’s way:

  1. Recognize your anger is sin – Anger is listed as a work of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21. 
  2. Confess your sin – 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  3. Replace your anger with the fruit of the Spirit – When you have a cleansed heart, you can ask God for the power of the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).

Take time to carefully study the verses included in this devotional and ask God to show you areas of anger in your heart. Take action by applying the three steps above. Ask God for a miracle today by exchanging an angry heart for a heart filled with love and peace.

22452.6 Anger Can Kill You

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8)

Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense. (Proverbs 19:11, AMP)

Proverbs 16:24 AMP Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body. (Proverbs 16:24, AMP)

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22, NAS95)

Anger, like stress, can produce negative changes in the body that cannot be ignored. The dashboard on your car has warning lights that tell you when something is wrong. Our bodies also have warning signs that tell us when all is not well in our spirit. Anger has been connected with a long list of diseases such as ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, impotence, infertility, headaches, thyroid disorders, neck spasms, and even cancer. These can be the warning lights that tell us to check our spirit! 

Dr. S. I. McMillen once wrote, “A mind upset makes a body sick. With every passing year, researchers find more and more ways that the mind produces sickness in the body. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that two-thirds of doctor visits are for ‘stress-related conditions.’ In 1981 scientists at the University of North Carolina studied hostility levels in 255 medical students. Over the years they watched the doctors with high hostility die like raging bulls in a bull ring. By middle age, 13 percent of the high-hostility men had died. In contrast, only 2 percent with low hostility had died. The men with high hostility had more hypertension and five times more heart attacks. Chronic anger had raised their blood pressure and clogged their coronary arteries. Long term anger makes for a short-term life.” 

What about the myth that venting our anger will be healthier for us? The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has reported that “many studies suggest that ventilation doesn’t work. One study evaluated one hundred engineers, recently laid off when their company downsized. They had transferred from another state and had been promised three-year jobs; but after only one year, they had all been fired. Researchers spent time with each man and discovered that the men who discussed the wrongs done them became much angrier after ventilating their anger. On the other hand, those who had not ventilated anger were less angry.”

“Getting habitually angry is like taking a small dose of some slow-acting poison-arsenic, for example- every day of your life.” (Dr. Redfrod Williams, Anger Kills)

Sit down today and evaluate your anger warning lights. Ask God to show you when you are getting angry and not seeing it in yourself. After God shows you, have the courage to get rid of your anger.

Other Resources: 

None of These Diseases by S. I. McMillen, M.D.

22452.7 Did God Really Say “Get Angry”?

“Be angry, and do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26, NKJV)

Many people use this verse to justify their anger saying that God instructs us to get angry and that we are not sinning if the other person is wrong and we are right. The problem with that line of thought is that we always think we are right and the other person is wrong. To understand the Ephesians verse properly we need to go to the original language that the verse was written in, Greek. 

The Greek verb tense for “be angry” is a present passive imperative. Present means that it is happening right now. Passive means, that you take no action. Imperative is not a command to “get angry” but rather an acknowledgement that there are going to be times when you feel someone or something working on you to make you angry. Applying the present passive imperative verb tense means that as you become angry do not derive satisfaction from the anger, recognize that it is present, and do not act upon it. Be angered, but don’t sin by acting on your anger. 

Didn’t Jesus get angry? Yes, in Mark 3:5, NAS 95: After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

If all anger is sin, then Jesus sinned. But we know that Jesus did not sin or he would not be holy. How, then, was Jesus angry without sinning? Mark 3:5 is the only passage in the New Testament that uses the word “anger” with the person of Christ. However the word “grief” is also in that same verse. Jesus was angry at their sin and grieved at the condition of their hearts. Seldom does a person get angry at people and also become grieved over their condition at the same time. Jesus had that ability. God’s anger is never occasional, it is eternal. Jesus is eternally angry with sin and eternally forgiving toward sinners. 

How do we experience anger and not sin? The same way Jesus experienced anger—if we are walking in union with Him and in the Holy Spirit—by not allowing the sun to go down on the anger nor allowing the devil a foothold. God states that anger is a part of our sinful nature and it is not listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. If we justify our anger as righteous because we are angry at the injustices in the world, we will be angry all the time for we live in a unjust, fallen world. God instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NAS95 to Rejoice always; in everything give thanks, and we cannot do that if we are angry. 

The Bible clearly tells us that God sees anger as sin! Get rid of it!

Adapted from Breaking Free from the Bondage of Sin, Dr. Henry Brandt 

22452.8 A Date With Death

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

There will come a time in every single person’s life when they will face death. If you knew that today was your last day to live, what would be important to you? Certainly your list of chores would be at the bottom of your priority list. When people face death they deal with two things: what they leave behind and where they are going. If you have ever stood next to the bedside of a dying person, you will have noticed they have a desire to wrap things up. They want to make things right with people that they have had misunderstandings with, and tell others how much they have meant to them. Another thing the dying tend to do, is examine their life to see if they are prepared to meet God. If we knew the day that we were going to die, we would certainly make sure that those important relationships were cleaned up before it was too late. The problem is, we don’t know when we will die. We need to live today as if it is our last. 

What about “where we are going?” Yes, there is life after death. We will stand before a just Judge. How do we know? God has told us in His Word.

How can you know without a shadow of a doubt that when you die you will go to heaven?

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 makes it clear when it says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

1 John 5:12-13 also says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

To be assured of your eternal life you need to know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. It is His work that will get you into heaven, not yours. If you have not asked Christ into your life, go back to the devotional #12 entitled” What Does it Mean to be Born Again?” and follow the steps to having a relationship with Jesus. If you do know Jesus Christ as your Savior, stand on the promises of God that He gives us in His Word. Live each day as if this is your last one, loving God, living for Him, and serving others. The finish line may be closer than you think.

22452.9 Will God Answer My Prayer?

you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)

Have you ever prayed really expecting God to answer, or do you just say the words because you know you should? If you prayed for rain, would you carry an umbrella expecting to use it? Can you quickly list how God has answered prayer in your life this week? Maybe you haven’t had an answer to prayer lately and you wonder…why doesn’t God answer my prayers? 

Prayer is simply sitting and talking with God face to face. It’s a conversation. It doesn’t take big fancy words or a special voice, just words from your heart. Some of the best prayers in the world are the prayers of children because they just say what they want and don’t worry about how it sounds to anyone else. Prayer is how we get to know God better. It is the same as building a relationship with a friend. The more time you spend in conversation, the closer you become and the more you know about the other person. 

God gives us some straight forward directions about our prayer life in His Word. James tells us that if we do not come to God and ask in prayer, He can’t answer it. Many times prayer is our last resort after first going to friends or trying to figure it out ourselves. James also gives us another reason for unanswered prayer…wrong motives. If our prayer is simply to gain something for our own pleasure, God tells us that is a wrong motive. 

John 15:7 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” 

We see in this verse the key to answered prayer…remaining close to God and keeping his commandments. That will help us understand how to pray in a way that will be answered. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 also gives us helpful instruction for praying. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

This is a clear statement of God’s will for our lives. He wants us to always be joyful, pray continuously, and be able to give Him thanks in all of our circumstances. If we truly understand God’s love and caretaking of us, we can be joyful all the time. We will pray continuously because we will believe He hears and answers prayer. Ultimately we will be able to be thankful in any circumstance because we know He is in control and has what is best for us in mind. 

Take some time to think through the commands in this verse. Are you joyful? Do you pray throughout your day giving things over to God? Can you give thanks to Him knowing He has full control and will take care of things so you can relax? This really is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.