Do Our Words Fall to the Ground?

Posted in Short Stories on August 20, 2018 by Stephen Hare

“Samuel grew; the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”  I Samuel 3:19

 

Is there any difference between Samuels words and ours?

Do our words fall to the ground?

Picture an archer shooting at a target. If his aim isn’t true, the arrow will fall to the ground, short or long of the intended target.

Because of Samuel’s calling and his genuine commitment to the Lord, his words always carried weight and power; “… and He let none of his words fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19

Just as God’s word doesn’t return void, but accomplishes His purpose, even so it was with the words of Samuel. His words were God’s words and had the power to effect change. “Let him who speaks, speak as the very words of God”. (1 Pet 4:11) This verse in the original language has a prophetic connotation,  and highlights the prophetic nature of Samuel’s words in the context of the new covenant.

The awareness of this has caused me to reflect on the effect of my words as compared to those of Samuel’s, and how many of my words have been inconsequential.

The consequence (power) of our words ( or the lack thereof) is directly related to the disposition of our hearts in proximity to God’s own heart, will and purpose.

The bible teaches that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and since it is God alone who is able to empower our words with life, it is our responsibility to continually monitor the disposition of our hearts to ensure that we are not presently or persistently grieving or quenching the holy Spirit, either by disobedience in our actions or our inactions.

I believe that if we are honest with ourselves and with God (since He knows anyway), we don’t have to wonder too long if we have done something that grieves the Holy Spirit. We can certainly deceive ourselves on this point, but when we are truly seeking God, He is faithful to make known to us anything that is in the way of our relationship (sin in any of its various forms and fascinations).

“Whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:3

If we examine our thoughts and actions in light of this verse, it really removes a lot of the “grey areas” that we can hide behind.

If I don’t have a clear conviction of God’s approval in whatever I’m considering (faith), then for me to proceed is sin.

The reality is that our words are not static. The influence of our words for good or evil is certainly in our power, and inasmuch as we are filled with the Holy Spirit and are led by the same spirit, the power of God is empowering the words that we speak to effect change in the hearts of others.

This should highlight the reality that our choices on a moment by moment basis DO matter; the things that we give our thoughts and energy to affect our lives and the lives of others.

I believe that our words, if empty, will “fall to the ground”, but similarly, if we speak destructive or negative words, the power of our words continues.

I can still remember negative words or phrases that my parents spoke to me over 55 years ago. It has taken that many years to overcome the weight and negative impact of those words.

It is clear to most anyone who has lived at all that words have the power to wound or to heal. Many of us (myself in particular) have experienced the negative power of words personally.  One thing (among others) that my mother said to me when I was in my teens was “You’ll never amount to anything more than a ditch-digger”.

I worked for a landscaping company for 15 years, and it’s hard to explain how disturbing it was to me that years after my mother died, when I found myself pulled off my regular work in turf-maintenance to help out with irrigation installs from time to time and had to dig trenches for the irrigation heads and control boxes.

It really wasn’t the work itself that disturbed me (certainly not my favorite thing to do), but the negative way that my mother’s statements caused me to feel about digging trenches.  Of course now I’ve had years to reflect on these things from both a rational and scriptural standpoint, so the act of digging isn’t in any way troubling to me now – just the pain in my lower back.  J

So then, Samuel’s words were words of life. They were not always pleasant words and sometimes words of judgment; as spoken to Saul after his illicit interaction with the witch at Endor – but his words were truth.

“And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.”  I Samuel 4:1

Obviously, this is the word of the Lord through Samuel.  What was it about Samuel’s life that distinguished him from anyone else?

“…and the Lord was with him…” and I Sam 3:21 says, “…for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh through the word of the Lord.”

It is good for us to remember the Lord’s promise to us in “the great commission” found in Matt 28:18 “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”, and because He is God and does not change, we know that He continues to reveal Himself to us through His word.

Let us therefore, consider our words. Are we speaking words that are in keeping with the truth of God’s word? Are we careful not to speak words that are hurtful to others?

James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”

“Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)  Eph 4:29

Let us then be people who continue in His word, “finding what is pleasing to the Lord”, knowing that as we set the Lord always before us (Psalm 16:8), He will cause His word to bear fruit in our lives, and through us the lives of others.

Amen.

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Mirrors

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , on September 5, 2017 by Stephen Hare

Transcendent Life without end

sent to free us from our sin

that those beneath might live above

with Him who offers boundless love

Salvation’s Light in darkness shined

that those who “see” might be made blind

The blind thereby receive their sight

native-born now to the Light

Light of truth broke chains that held

by lies enslaved; in darkness dwelled

now image bearers of the Son;

now mirrors of the Risen One

Stephen Hare © 12-9-2012

Hidden From View

Posted in Poetry on July 14, 2017 by Stephen Hare

Glimmer of the light within

Veiled by the lure of sin

Heart, the reflector of the soul;

Forged by trial and faith’s affliction

Driven by the staff of God

Rod by which the lambs are proved

Through the fire and wilderness deep

Leads the Shepherd of the sheep

Hardness by redeeming love,

Annealed by the Master’s plan

By the Spirit’s will and reaping

Affections garnered for the King

Perception of our transformation

Hindered by our earthly frame

Until by grace through faith we see

We appear the same

Nonetheless, the finished work

Through wooden cross; unearthly force

Even through our pain and sorrows

Grace within to stay the course

Entrance through the narrow gate;

The path before, strewn with light

The word that guides through deepest valleys

Illuminates the darkest night

Through the glass darkly, now we see

Only then, face to face

Then shall we know, as we are known

When at last we complete our race

Mystery of the new creation

Glory emerging from the clay

In wisdom hidden from our view

Revealed on the final day

wrought by Stephen Hare
Copyright ©6/26/17

Misty Mountains

Posted in Short Stories on August 20, 2016 by Stephen Hare

Misty mountains, subtle hues…

beautious, verdant green.

Pictures and words fall short; attempting – while failing to capture, relate,

Misty Mountains

India Mist

or convey.

Deficient depictions;

Images…only imitations of the present essence.

The glory of the visible creation points to the hidden

yet surpassing glory of the Creator;

whispering to the blind, shouting to those who see.

Desert Place

Posted in Short Stories on February 16, 2015 by Stephen Hare

wordimagery

desert place 3

Oh Lord, when will You come?

When will you answer me?

And when You come,

what will You find in my heart?

For this heart has been to me – an enemy…

Oh Lord, unite my heart to fear Your name!

Create in me a clean heart O God

And renew a steadfast spirit within;

for Your glory and Your honor

for Your glory O Lord 

O Lord, how did I come

To this desert place?

How did my eyes not see

The path that brought me here?

How I long now for your word; Your Spirit’s voice to me

Only speak and these dry bones will live again!

Create in me a clean heart O God

And renew a steadfast spirit within

For Your glory and Your honor

For Your glory O Lord

Received 2009 via Steve Hare

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Who Will Enter the Kingdom?

Posted in Articles, Devotional Corner with tags on February 7, 2015 by Stephen Hare

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”Luke 12:32

Before we begin to address this topic we can take such comfort and encouragement from Jesus’ words in Luke, that tell us not to fear, that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.

There are many different “brands” of Christianity these days, or so it would seem.

There are multitudes of churches throughout our country and the world at large that could be referred to or thought of as different flavors or expressions of the Christian faith.

Now, while it is nice to think that we are able to simply pick the one that best suits our preference, our spiritual persuasion or doctrinal belief system, we must never allow ourselves to think of these religious forms or expressions as a type of spiritual temperature gauge to somehow measure our proximity or relationship to God.

Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt 25:34

It should be understood that all the questions and discussion related to sound biblical doctrine and belief are secondary when it comes to knowing whether we will or will not enter the kingdom of heaven, for Jesus himself said, “Not everyone who keeps saying to me,  “Lord, Lord” will get into the kingdom from heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven.”  Mt 7:21

You will meet people all the time who claim to “know God” or to be a Christian, many whose lives don’t display any different qualities or standards morally or spiritually that would distinguish one from another.

To accurately understand our relationship to God we must look to the word that comes from God Himself.

The teaching of Paul in the book of Corinthians is consistent with that of Jesus, and he makes it clearly understood that not all people will enter the kingdom. He says in 1 Cor 6:9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? “

“Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you. But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the

name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. “

So then, while it is clear that not all will enter the kingdom, entrance is not denied based

exclusively on what we’ve done in the past since Paul says that many of those in the Corinthian

church were once defined by the disqualifying descriptors. But the amazing truth is that even

though a person might have been guilty of such crimes against God and themselves, God who is

rich in mercy forgives and cleanses us by the redemption that was purchased by the blood of

His own son, Jesus Christ, who died on our behalf.

“But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the

name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. “

We are only denied access to the kingdom if we have not been washed and cleansed by the blood of

Christ and if we have continued to practice unrighteousness as the expression of our daily living;

that it is still presently not about what we once were, but who we still are.

Again Paul teaches in Galatians 5:20-21 –

“Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are:

adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies,

angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies,  envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and things like

these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not

inherit the kingdom of God.

Here again, Paul is emphasizing defining behavioral practices that if indulged in a

habitual way will prevent one from entering the kingdom of God.

James makes it clear that our faith in God must be accompanied by works, or our faith is really dead.

The Holy Spirit affirms that we are the children of God, enabling us to live according to a different set of ideals, principles and affections that are all rooted in the instruction of the Word of God.

James said that faith without works is dead, so that the only way to identify a faith that is genuine, is to examine the life of the professing believer. There will necessarily be evidence in the conduct and way of living that supports the profession of belief in God.

If there is no substantive change in our behavior or fundamental shift of our paradigm the way we view our life and reality; then upon what basis can we lay claim to biblical salvation, that is defined by a new creation?

The term “new creation” itself suggests that the old has died, and something new has begun. That is the experience of every christian, however different it might look for the individual.

If we truly believe that God is who He says He is, then we know that we are accountable to him for what we do with our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.

The scriptures tell us that all mankind is accountable before God; “all men are without excuse” and “everyone will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the things they have done in the flesh, whether good, or evil.”

The paradigm shift is that now we understand that we are accountable to God, whereas before we were completely blind to that reality.

For the one who knows to do right and does it not, it is sin. We may say that we have a relationship with God, but that relationship precludes the continued practice of sin.

If we understand that God is everywhere present, then that should affect the way that we relate to sin. To be comfortable sinning in God’s presence represents a denial that He is in fact present, and therefore reveals some level of non-reality exists.

“What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid, how shall those of us who have died with regard to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:1

The grace of God doesn’t overlook sin, the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age.

Titus 2:11

So then, whether we will or will not enter the kingdom will be determined by whether we have truly received the wonderful gift of His grace, and if we have it will be evidenced by the lives that we now live.

Every one of us has been alienated from the life of God because of who we are in our sin. That’s where we all begin, but that’s not where we need to stay. Being a Christian is more than mere words; it is who we have become.

We are no longer who or what we once were, and that necessitates actual change; not that we can produce on our own, but what God does in us and for us by the power of His Spirit who now resides in us.

It is the Father’s good pleasure to give to us the kingdom, but we must receive it, and the receiving of it requires that we begin to live lives that are worthy of it.

“Enter by the narrow is the gate, because the gate is wide and the road is spacious that leads to destruction, and many people are entering by it.  How narrow is the gate and how constricted is the road that leads to life, and there are few that find it!  Mt 7:13-14

There is no need for anyone to be deceived on this point since God has made it so clear. We can’t recreate ourselves, that is God’s work. But when we cry out to Him for mercy and He changes us by His power, it will become self-evident by our changed hearts and the trajectory of our lives.

So then, who will enter the kingdom of God?

If you are uncertain at this point, you should cry out to God for mercy until you see a changed life when you look in the mirror. If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you a court of law?

“Not everyone that keeps saying “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom from heaven, but only the one who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven.”  Mt 7:21

Amen.

The Upward Call

Posted in Short Stories on February 7, 2015 by Stephen Hare

wordimagery

When my heart is done with sin

with purer eyes then to see

unwitting fool that I have been

not to recognize in me

the stamp of God upon my soul

by the Spirit, God’s holy seal

mystery of the ages, Christ in me revealed!

Now waiting not for greater grace,

as though He should twice die for me

same grace of old, I now lay hold,

the grace of Calvary

Oh to know Him in His risen power!

to be His friend in suffering…

conformed to Him in the likeness of death

His life for all to bring

Now my delight, the perfect law of God

answer to my thirsting soul

the Shepherds thoughts – now my own

after another I will not go

Obeying now the upward call

grain of wheat to soils embrace,

living to die, we die to live –

that we might see the Saviors…

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