They laced up their shoes and headed for the starting line. What seemed to be a typical half marathon soon changed as the contestants began strapping on weights. Arm weights. Chest weights. Ankle weights. The ultimate challenge – run the race carrying the weight they had recently lost. Runners strapped on 75 – 115 lbs as a reminder of what used to weigh their lives down, keeping them from living to their potential.
On an elevated level, I am convinced we do this as believers. We strap on rejection, a painful past, fear, guilt, and old habits and attempt to run the marathon of life. Burdens that are no longer ours to bear, paid in full by the cross, continue to hold us down, molding our identity, shaping our longings.
The Israelites were no stranger to this weird phenomenon. After 400 years of slavery, they were finally free – physically. With each struggle in the desert, they longed to return to their land of slavery. The chains that held them in cruel bondage and discouragement were familiar, a sense of security in an unknown desert land. They were physically free but mentally slaves.
For many of us, while we walk in freedom from the chains of death, we remain mentally chained to our past. Not realizing God does some of His greatest work through the frailest people.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone! When you find yourself returning to familiar chains, strapping on the heavy load of a previous you, there are a few things you can do.
1. Understand This Is A Lifelong Battle
The enemy knows our name, but he calls us by our failures. As long as we are still breathing, the enemy is still dangling memories, trying to get us to strap on the hurt. Recognizing this is a lifelong struggle is a key to standing in victory and not feeling defeated. It’s not a once win, always win. As believers, we are not absent from pain and suffering caused by ourselves or others. Hurts will arise. Sin will creep in. We must be ready, not exchanging the peace of freedom for the bait of slavery. Until we meet Jesus face to face, the marathon of life continues. Remaining focused on the heavenly goal, we will forget what is behind, strain toward what is ahead, and press on to the heavenward prize.
- For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. Romans 7:22-23
- Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12
- Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
KEEP PRESSING FORWARD ~ PHILIPPIANS 3:13
2. Choose Your Thoughts
Paying close attention to our thoughts is key to living shackle free. What we think comes out in our actions and words. Physically held by force, bound by the Spirit at work in us, our thoughts must become obedient to Christ. Anything – EVERYTHING – that sets itself up against God must be crushed, annihilated, destroyed. This doesn’t mean ignoring the thoughts because they seemingly return. It requires renewing your mind. Dwelling on God’s Word, not the voices that call you back to former things. God’s desire is to use the painful past to make a way in the wilderness, streams in the wasteland. He is doing a new thing in your life! Do you perceive it?
- We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
- Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah. 43:18-19
- Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
3. Realize You Are Created Victorious
With every unwelcomed circumstance or thought, a choice is at hand. Will we choose to be a victim or victor? The moment you accepted Christ, the weight He bore on the cross broke the heavy shackles, and your burden lifted. His death and resurrection swallowed slavery – for good! So, when those lies of defeat, discouragement, and bondage come knocking, let the Savior answer. Under the pillar of the cross, we take our stand of victory. The smallest victories are worthy of a celebration; turn them into a conversation of gratitude with the King.
- But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)
- For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deuteronomy 20:4 (NIV)
- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
4. Stand on the promise of God
We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) so who we are (or aren’t) isn’t nearly as important as who He is. Even when you feel defeated, and the circumstances tip the scale toward a victim, chose to stand on the promises of God. Heaven and earth may pass away but God’s word will not. The foundation of His throne is faithfulness. He does not violate His covenant or alter what His lips have already uttered (Psalm 89:34). Whether you need strength, healing, courage, wisdom, peace, or anything else, stand on the gift of His promise. Like any gift, though you have to receive it, unwrap it, and use it.
- I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:20
- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
- For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ. And so through Him the “AMEN” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)
Father, thank you for taking the weight of the world’s sin so we can walk with our heads held height. Help us to understand this lifelong battle, choose our thoughts wisely, walk victorious and stand on Your promises. We want to be free both eternally and mentally. Help me overcome the noise of my past. For no matter how many promises God has made, we say “yes” and “AMEN”. All for the glory of God!
Today, we celebrate 241 years of freedom ringing Independence from the British Empire. Throughout the years, men and women have stood in faithfulness to our beautiful country, sacrificing time, family, and life.
And, while I am incredibly grateful for this freedom, there is One who came ages ago for true freedom. Christ came that we may have life, freedom from death’s empire. He stood the test of absolute faithfulness, laying down His life for us.
So today, we celebrate the freedom of our country flying high in a flag and today we celebrate the freedom of Christ flying high in a cross.
Happy Independence Day!
Have you ever squeezed an orange only to have lemon juice come out? No? Me neither!
While that may be a silly analogy, the same applies to us. When the pressures of life squeeze us, what’s on the inside pours out in our words and actions. Proverbs 27:19 says, as water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart (NIV).
What would our reflections be? Would they display grace and encouragement, nourishing those around us? Or, would the words of our mouth reflect the frustration, anger, and bitterness of hearts grown cold?
In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus put it like this, you won’t find grapes on briers or figs on thornbushes. The tree is recognized by the fruit it produces. Whatever fills the heart, bubbles up and flows through our mouth (paraphrasing).
The truth is, from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. To change our speech, the words we use, the tone we use, and the motivation of our words, we have to get to the heart of the issue. So download your Making Christ Lord Of My Lips Workbook (sign up for the newsletter) and let’s get started!
1.) TASTE YOUR WORDS
The words of our mouth are the fruit of our hearts. If you were to “eat” your words, would sweet, refreshing orange juice or bitter lemon juice flow? Would your stomach turn sour, or be satisfied? What is the health of your fruit?
- From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips, he is satisfied. Proverbs 18:20 (NIV)
2.) DETERMINE WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR SPEECH
Last week we talked about the different forms of poison our mouths can produce. Of the areas you struggle with, what is the underlying root? Is it anger? The expectation of perfection? Frustration? Pride and arrogance? Jealousy? Fear? Perversion? Acceptance? Hurt? Lack of gratitude? Need for attention? Determining the cause is key to “uprooting” the weed.
- Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Matthew 7:17-18 NKJV
- For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
3. CONFESS, REPENT, AND REPEAT
In Psalm 32, David talks about his body wasting away as he kept silent about his sin. Confessing lifts the heaviness from our soul, opening the line of communication with God. The heart of the Father has always been to turn His children back to Him. Resist the enemy’s urge and, over time, the urge will flee.
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
- Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19 (NIV)
- Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NIV)
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. – Margaret Thatcher
4.) COMMIT TO MAKING CHRIST LORD OF YOUR LIPS
Lord – master, captain, commander, King, leader, boss, director, instructor and judge. Whoever sits on the throne of one’s heart, determines the life lived. There is only room for one King on the throne. Either we give all access to our King, allowing Him to steer, direct, and lead or we retain the reigns and direct our own lives.
- For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
- Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
- But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
5.) STORE GOD’S WORD IN YOUR HEART
To keep our ways pure, we have to live according to His word, seeking Him with all our heart. Hiding His Word in our hearts keeps us heavenly focused and deters us from sin. Though the Making Christ Lord Of My Lips Workbook has scripture relating to our heart, words and renewing the mind, there are verses for every area we struggle in. Search the Bible for them, write them down, commit them to memory.
- I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
- I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. Psalm 119:7 (NIV)
6.) GUARD YOUR HEART
Our hearts are the source of life both spiritually and physically. If we don’t guard it with the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness, we leave our lives open to enemy invasion. Do you find yourself around others who draw those weaknesses out? Are there certain environments or entertainment inviting it into your life?
- Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Proverbs 4:23-24 (NIV)
- Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
- Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)
- Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked. Proverbs 25:26 (NIV)
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Guard that time well.
If you missed last week’s discussion on the lifelong damage of the tongue, be sure to check it out!
Don’t forget to download Making Christ Lord of Your Lips Workbook. This 28-page workbook has a 31-Day reading plan, questions, guided prayers, as well as a scripture reading plan for each area discussed in Scripture.
Our family is doing the study together over the summer. I’d love to hear how you use it!
We’ve all been there. On the receiving end of reckless words. And while our mouths can declare with a sense of certainty, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” our hearts have a harder time believing it.
Tears well up. Hurts are deposited. Hearts grow cold.
Words. The most powerful tool we have for communication, and yet, according to Proverbs 18:21, they can be used to breathe life or inflict death.
We learn this “art” of words – the painful infliction of death by tongue – at a very young age.
We learn to show compassion or criticize. Teach or tear down. Extend grace or spew disgrace. Worship or whine. Defend or divide. Make peace or stir up problems. Gossip or give wise counsel. Bless or bruise.
In Matthew 12:36, Jesus made a sobering comment, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
The fact is our words carry a lot of weight. With warnings about the magnitude of the tongue sprinkled through scripture, we have to understand how important our words are to the Father AND how influential they are to our neighbor.
After all, God spoke creation into motion and made us in His image. Having made all creatures, God “brought them to Adam to see what he (Adam) would name them and that is what they were called” (Genesis 2:19). How about Pentecost? For the first time, people were filled with the Holy Spirit, represented as flaming tongues, and they proclaimed the Gospel in other languages.
God has given us authority in our words but with that comes great responsibility. His desire is for us to call forth life, proclaiming the Gospel.
James describes the extent of the tongue’s damage in James 3:2-12. As we dive into the six takeaways, ask the Father to open the eyes of your heart to any areas of concern. So download your Making Christ Lord Of My Lips Workbook (sign up for the newsletter) and let’s get started!
1.) We All Stumble
You’re not alone in this battle. We know from scripture, Jesus is the only one without fault. You and I have all fallen and said things we wish we could take back. But, to gain ground in this area, we have to be open to areas of improvement and acknowledge our need. Once we open our hearts to the truth of this need, we’re set free to move forward.
- We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. James 3:2
2.) Deadly Poison Is At The Tip Of The Tongue
While I would never actually hand someone a cup of deadly poison to drink, there have been times I’ve given them a “cup” full of my poisonous words. What we say to or about others speaks volumes about us. Criticism, harsh, complaining, cussing, condescending, bragging, manipulation, gossip, lying, exaggerating, and negativity are all forms of deadly poison. We have to train ourselves to see them in such a way.
- All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:7-8
3.) Our Words Shape Our Lives.
I love that James uses a ship as an example. The first ship ever made, the Ark, was designed by God to save lives, preserve future generations, and redirect the course of the world. We are created to do the same, friends! But the tiny “rudder” in our mouths, take us off course. It may start with one degree off but, left uncorrected; we will find ourselves headed in an entirely different direction than the Captain ordered. Our tongue controls who we become; where we go.
- When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. James 3:3-4
4.) Our Speech Has The Ability To Ruin Our Entire Life
It’s amazing how much destruction one word can cause. Friendships end, ministries evaporate, marriages dissolve, and families wither as a result of the tongue. The untamed tongue, with its roots in hell, is like a small spark in the dry grass of summer’s heat. It burns out of control, consuming everything in the path while leaving behind permanent devastation.
- Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6
5.) Doesn’t Mix With Godly Character
If you’ve ever made salad dressing, you know oil and water DO NOT MIX. Sure, you can vigorously shake it until it somewhat blends, but within minutes the two have parted ways; oil on top, water on the bottom. When we curse or condemn others, we are cursing their Creator; the One who made them in His image and likeness. The words float to the top, covering up the life-giving water below. Ungodly words will never mix with His living water.
- With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:9-12
6.) It Will Lead Us Further From God
Because empty, poisonous words to not mix with Godly character, the more we allow our “rudder” to take us off course, the further and further away from God we get. Our lives display less of Him and more and more of our divisive ways.
- Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16
I don’t know about you, but I have enough to give an account for before adding a laundry list of empty words to it. Not to mention, I want my words to heal wounds, not cause them. How then do we tame the tongue? Join me next week as we get to the heart of the issue! Blessings!
- Do your words point others (family, friends, co-workers, strangers) to God or away from Him?
- Of the deadly poisons listed in point 2, in which area(s) do you struggle? Write it down and pray over it. We will revisit these next week.
- Do you see how words have shaped your life? What about the life of someone else?
- Have you seen the “rudder” of someone’s mouth cause irreparable damage?
- Commit to memorizing Proverbs 18:21.
“Some pain is good,” she explained as she ruffled my husband’s release papers.
Her words caught me off guard, ringing in my ear the entire ride home.
How could pain be good? The very topic of it feels uncomfortable, leaving an uneasy awareness that life is not always pleasant.
What our nurse didn’t expand on is that pain happens for one reason: to protect you. Simply put, it’s the body’s way of letting us know something is harmful. Pain also has a memory, relying on past experiences to determine the stimulus and pain levels.
Unless medication numbs the pain sensors, the body feels each new pain more strongly.
Unfortunately, pain isn’t limited to our physical body. The emotional pain caused by gut-wrenching names last well beyond the initial blow. With each new painful word, name, or accusation, comes a higher level of pain. A pain sinking deeper and deeper into the fibers of our DNA.
In an attempt to cover the throbbing wound, we begin numbing the sensors by self-medicating. Drugs, alcohol, materialism, perfectionism, success, good works, anger, etc., become our outlet. All the while, the only medication strong enough to completely remove the pain is His life-giving truth. A healing truth that declares you are …
Chosen & Cherished
From the beginning, I chose you. It was My grace that drew you to salvation, calling your name out of the darkness. I adore you so much that I sent my Son to pay your ransom, a price you could never pay. Cherished one, you are engraved on the palms of His hands. Always with Me, never forgotten.
- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. John 15:16
- But we ought always to thank God for you, brother loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
- See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:16
Sweet friend, I will never steer you wrong. I laid down my life for you to enjoy an abundant life here on earth. Walk with me, talk with me, friend to friend. My counsel comes straight from our Father’s throne room. Our time together will leave you refreshed, encouraged, and full of joy.
- Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
- No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
- Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9
Although your citizenship is with Me in heaven, I have appointed you my highest-ranking diplomat on earth. I have entrusted you with an eternal mission to represent the interests of My Kingdom. Don’t let the things around you distract you from the importance of your job as My ambassador. You are a significant part of my work on earth.
- We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20
- But our citizenship is in heaven. Philippians 3:20
- Set your minds on things above not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
Redeemed & New
I alone have justified you. My Son lived a perfect life to redeem an imperfect world. His surrender paid for your striving. You are a brand-new child with a new life, full of possibilities. No longer do I see your past. So why do you gaze at it? Keep your eyes focused on Me as I transform your past problems into a palace of potential. I am making all things new!
- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1
- Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Romans 8:33-34
Sealed & Secure
When you trusted me with your life, an eternal deposit was made. A deposit, worth more than all the world’s riches. The eternity I placed in your heart as I formed you was set ablaze. Nothing in all creation can break My seal of approval on your life. You are safe, secure, and sealed with My unwavering love.
- He set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:22
- Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 2 Corinthians 5:5
- When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
Names rely on past experiences to determine the pain level. Did any of these or the names from last week’s post trigger an uneasy memory or uncomfortable feeling?
If so, don’t skip or rush through it. Pain’s purpose is to show you where you’re hurt. While the emotional “body” is trying to protect you, numbing your pain sensors, our Great Physician is seeking to heal you. Allow Him to uncover the lie so His truth can cover it.
Choose to embrace the Father’s words, to let His truth hug you and set you free!
Don’t forget to sign up for these Scripture cards. I’ve also included blank ones so for you. Write you own new name or jot down the Bible verses and carry them with you as a reminder of who you were created to be.
As we finish up the series on More Than A Label, it seems fitting to talk about the power of our tongue. So, join me next week for the series on The Power of Our Words.
Blessings, Chosen One!