Life And Death – In The Power Of The Tongue

   For nearly thirty years I was on the Speaker’s Tour which I called, “Three Unusual Days”. They were three in number (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), they were unusual in quality, and they were days in my life. This spiritual renewal weekend took me into all 50 states and numerous other countries. I look back on it now and think “How did you do that?” Nearly 1400 meetings in those thirty years. Wow! Before that time, I served as a local minister for thirty years.
   Each weekend called for nearly 8 hours of speaking. Words are powerful. One lady commented, “That was a warm lesson”. I looked up the word warm and it means, “Not so hot!”. One added that it was a mellow lesson. That word can mean, “Almost rotten” (like a mellow banana). One brother prayed at the conclusion of my efforts, “Lord, the preacher has lit many a spark in our hearts. Help us to water them”. One church leader said, “As a church leader, I’ve overlooked this congregation for nearly fifty years. He meant “overseen”.
   Samuel Johnson was a great speaker and prose writer. His problem (so I’m told) was he seldom took a bath. One lady sitting beside him at a formal dinner, turned up her nose and said, “Mr. Johnson, you smell”. He replied in a corrective tone, “Madam, you smell, I stink”.  I remember one little girl who said, “I’m not a member of your church, I belong to another abomination.”
   Words are funny. When we lived in Chattanooga, my wife said, “let’s go out and eat at the Happy Bull”. I thought a minute and replied, “I’ve never heard of the Happy Bull”. She said, “O yes, it is out on the Lee highway. That evening we drove out the Lee highway and there was the sign, “The Jolly Ox”.
   There are some 500,000 words in the English language. The vast majority of people will only use a small portion of them during a lifetime. It is estimated that 85 percent of our vocabulary is already formed by the age of 12. Ninety-five percent of all books we will read are read by the age of 21. Yet words remain the most fascinating study of our culture.  Thousands of books are produced each year. I have authored my share. The first to be published (“The Glory of the Ordinary”) still sells after forty years of publication.
   Words are funny. One newspaper reported that John Jones had become the new defective in the police force. They corrected the mistake the following day by writing, (correction), “John Jones has become the new detective in the police farce”.
   On the serious side, have you ever stopped to realize that God didn’t leave us any pictures or statures, or works of art. He left his will (Testament) in words. In his word is the power of life and death. Read it often. Read it for pleasure. Read it for profit. Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Read it with care for it is written, “The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
   Jesus said, “It is the spirit that gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).
   Get serious as you read what James, the practical apostle says about the tongue. “But the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell. Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea is tamed of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:6-7).
   The man was found beside the road with a big knot on his head. He had been carrying a sign which read, “Let him that be without sin, cast the first stone”. He found the guy and he ‘beaned’ him.
   The little girl was shaken badly. Someone at school had learned the truth that she was adopted and had been making fun of her because of it. When she returned home from school she flew into her mothers arms crying. As parents they had discussed the problem of when to tell her the background of her adoption. “When Daddy comes home we’ll talk about it. Now, dry your tears and get ready for supper.”
   When the meal was over the inevitable meeting occurred and Daddy began. “What the boy said about you today was true. I’m not your real Daddy and Mother is not your real Mother.” The Father hushed her tears and begged for a moment to explain it all.
   “You see, Mother and I couldn’t have any children. It’s something God has not allowed to happen. So we decided to go search out just the right one to be our daughter. We went to the home for little children. There were many that could be adopted. We passed them all up but when we saw you, we knew you were the one that would be selected. You see, we chose you as a special gift from God. Everybody else just has to take what God gives them.
   Paul speaks of the Christian as “one who has been predestined to be adopted as children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). Saved by grace – adopted by love.


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