Cursing and Blessing

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Cursing and Blessing’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 1/18/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1yJdkeR

Week In Review

Last week, we talked about the power of our words. God’s words have incredible power. When He spoke to an empty universe, creation came to life. We are made in His image. When we speak over people and situations in need of supernatural life, creation listens. Life and death is in the power of the tongue (Prov 18:21).

When we speak curses over ourselves instead of blessings, we give room for Satan to operate in our lives. We can actually prevent God’s blessings from taking root in our lives with our negative speech. So the obvious question arises: do we have to be afraid of other people cursing us?

Balak and Balaam

The response in an emphatic no. We see this principle illustrated in the story of Balak and Balaam. Balak, the king of Moab, was afraid of the Isralites. He had seen the victory they had just won over the people of Ammon, and he wanted to do everything in his power to make sure his kingdom did not meet the same fate. So he hired Balaam, a prophet, to curse the Israelites.

First, Balak brought Balaam up to the high places of Baal (Num 22:41). Balaam set up seven altars, and sacrificed one bull and one ram on each altar. But he could not curse Israel!

“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” – Num 23:8

Balak was obviously upset, so he opted for a change of scenery. Maybe, he thought Balaam would be able to curse the people of Israel if he were in another location?! So Balak brought Balaam up to the mountain of Pisgah in the field of Zophim (Num 23:14). Balaam went about the same routine: he set up seven altars, and sacrificed one bull and one ram on each. But he still couldn’t curse God’s people!

“Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.” – Num 23:20

Balak, even more frustrated, decided to give this cursing business one last attempt. He brought Balaam to another location, on the top of Mount Peor (Num 23:28). Balaam got the party started the same way: he set up seven altars, and sacrificed one bull and one ram on each. But guess what? He still couldn’t curse the people of Israel!

“God brings [Jacob] out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones and pierce them with his arrows.” – Num 24:8

Try as he might, Balaam could not curse the people of Israel. Why? Because what God has blessed, no man can curse!

You are blessed through Jesus Christ. Because of the finished work of the Cross, God has promised you the same inheritance as Abraham and Jacob. YOU ARE BLESSED! No enemy of yours can have any say in that blessing.

Eventually, and unfortunately, Balaam got the best of Israel. After our story in Numbers 22-24, he returned to Balak and shared a secret with the King of Moab: the Israelites could only be cursed if they brought it on themselves. They could only be cursed if they allowed Satan an entry point into their lives:

Balaam…taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality… – Rev 2:14

He whom God blesses can certainly curse himself. However, when we understand the power of our words, we can make sure to speaking blessings over ourselves. We should never – ever – be afraid of someone else trying to curse us. Their efforts will always fall flat.

Whom Are You Really Cursing?

When we curse other people, we think we’re really sticking it to them. We think we’re really making them feel bad. We rationalize that, for some reason, if our day is ruined, then someone else’s should be ruined in retaliation.

Just last week, someone called the church office pretending to be a billing associate from Con Edison, our electricity provider. They told me that if we didn’t pay our bill within 45 minutes, our power would go off! What’s more, if the power went off, they wouldn’t be able to turn it back on for 3-5 business days. That meant that Sunday service would have been in the dark!

This ‘Con Edison employee’ gave me the following payment instructions to remedy our situation: I should proceed to the nearest money transfer store and wire cash to an account number he would give me.

Obviously the guy on the other end of the line wasn’t Christian. This was the biggest sham I had ever heard of! What’s more, he was trying to rob a church!!! I wanted to say some very nasty things to this gentleman. But I talked to my wife, and wisdom prevailed. She told me not to say anything mean, and to simply pray for him. So I listened.

The point is this: I had the opportunity to curse that man. He was wicked, and he probably deserved it. So many of us are in this same exact situation almost every day! It’s so easy to curse back when someone curses us. But what if I told you that the curses you speak actually hurt you: the speaker?

Our words define whom we become. David put it this way:

As he loved cursing, so let it come to him; as he did not delight in blessing, so let it be far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, so let it enter his body like water, and like oil into his bones. Let it be to him like the garment which covers him, and for a belt with which he girds himself continually. – Ps 109:17-19

We reap what we sow. If we curse others, we will be cursed. If we refrain from blessing others, God will refrain from blessing us!

If we surround ourselves with cursing (and cursers!), those very words will seep into our bones. They will occupy the depths of who we are. Those curses will transform our lives from the inside out and completely cover us.

Jesus had a favorite commandment:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. – Jn 13:34-35

You are going to meet some people in your life who are downright nasty. They will be wicked, and they will be relentless. But you know what? You were once that person too.

We don’t deserve mercy. Every single one of us has disobeyed God (Rom 3:23). Every single man and woman has fallen short of the simple things God tells us to do. But His response was to love us unconditionally. He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins, so that we would never have to pay the price we owe. And in response, God asks us to love one another as He loved us. So are you going to love cursing, or are you going to love others?

Can I Still Swear?

Profanities are harmless on the surface. I’ve known many Christians over the years who swear from time to time. I’m one of them: just ask my wife (apparently when I start doing home improvement projects, a few not-so-nice words just seem to find their way out of my lips).

I even know someone who used to say that you could swear in prayer! His argument was that God would surely understand. After all, if He sees our hearts anyway, why should we even try to pretend our mouths are clean?

I strongly disagree with that sentiment. Paul cautioned Timothy about profanity:

Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. – 2 Tim 2:14-16

What we speak determines whom we become. Our speech can set the tone for our thoughts and actions. When we curse, we sound like the rest of the world, which opens the door for Satan to convince us to act like the rest of the world. Do you want to sound like the world, or do you want to sound like Jesus?

Our Choice: Cursing and Blessing

More important is this: cursing and blessing are mutually exclusive. When we’re blessing, we cannot be cursing; and when we’re cursing, we cannot be blessing. Only one of those choices can proceed out of our moth at a time.

When I was a kid, my parents had a tried-and-true strategy for helping me to avoid swearing. If I swore, they would wash my mouth out with soap! I can still remember the taste. They were doing more than simply punishing me for my actions: they were encouraging me to make a better choice. What I am encouraging you towards today is doing exactly the same thing. Choose blessing over cursing!

James cautioned the early church to be careful with their tongues:

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. – James 3:8-12

When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, we are made new. Why should we accept newness in every area of our lives but our speech? Why should we bring our bodies to life under the New Covenant, but neglect our tongues? Blessing and cursing should not proceed from the same mouth; and if we curse, we betray the nature of who God invites us to become in Him.

We have a choice: we can curse, or we can bless. When we curse, those same curses seep into our bones (see Ps 109, above). But when we bless, we breathe new life into the people who need it the most.

Ezekiel is famous for speaking life into dry bones:

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. – Ezek 37:1-10

God wants to raise up an army of Spirit-filled believers who are able to go out and perform His will. He needs us to speak life – not death – into His people. He needs us to bless, instead of curse! And when we do, His army will come to life.

- by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Day 22: Are Your Expectations Too Low?

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Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 44:1-45:28
Matthew 14:13-36
Psalm 18:37-50
Proverbs 4:11-13
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1ePLAbm

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“And [Joseph] commanded the steward of his house, saying, ‘Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack’” (Gen 44:1).

Joseph wanted to bless his brothers because they were family. He offered them as much food as they could carry. The implication is that the blessing Joseph was able to provide was limited by the size of each man’s bag. The brothers who had prepared to carry much received more; and the brothers who had prepared to carry little received less.

We see a similar story in 2 Kings 4. Elisha told a struggling widow to gather as many jars as she could find from her neighbors. The widow watched in amazement as Elisha filled every single jar with oil, which she could then sell to pay off her debts. But when the vessels ran out, the oil ceased (2 Kings 4:6).

God wants to bless you because you are His child. But He can only bless you if you make room to receive His blessings. The blessings which Joseph’s brothers received were dictated by the size of the vessels they provided. The widow’s blessing was shut off once the prepared vessels were full. If we come to God’s throne with low expectations, He will satisfy that low standard; but if we come before Him with mountain-moving faith, He will move the world on our behalf!

Raise your level of expectation for what God is willing to do in Your life. If you make room for God to bless you, He will fill it!

Prayer:

Father, help me to make room in my life for Your blessings. I humbly ask that You would raise my expectations for what You are able to do in my life. You are God, and nothing is impossible for You!

Day 21: False Perceptions Generate Fear

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Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 42:18-43:34
Matthew 13:47-14:12
Psalm 18:16-36
Proverbs 4:7-10
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/KtvBXi

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid” (Gen 42:35).

When all of Joseph’s brothers returned home, each man’s money was still in his bag! They immediately assumed that there had been some kind of mistake. Would the Egyptians think they had stolen the grain? Would they be punished for keeping the grain and their money? What price would they have to pay for this obvious error? Would they end up in prison with their brother, Simeon?

Sometimes we interpret a blessing as a bad thing. We immediately adopt fear instead of rejoicing! Joseph’s brothers assumed that Joseph would condemn them. As far as they knew, Joseph had accused them of lying, and was ready to punish them for their sins! However, that assumption was far from the truth. Joseph simply desired to bless his brothers because he loved them.

False perceptions generate fear. Joseph’s brothers should not have assumed that finding their money intact was bad. However, their false perception of Joseph caused them to believe a lie. When God blesses you, don’t assume it’s a mistake. Don’t let a false perception of Him cause you to believe a lie. Believe that God delights in you! Believe that He blesses you because He loves you, and He is good!

God’s blessings make us rich, and He adds no sorrow to it (Prov 10:22). God is a good God! He doesn’t bless you because He has to; He blesses you because He delights in you (Ps 18:19)!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for delighting in me! I know that You bless me simply because You love me. I don’t have to be afraid of punishment from You. Thank You for blessing me, and adding no sorrow to it!

Day 20: Pearls of Wisdom

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Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 41:17-42:17
Matthew 13:24-46
Psalm 18:1-15
Proverbs 4:1-6
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1kOtfTn

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered…” (Matt 13:36-37).

Jesus spoke in parables on purpose. He was a storyteller, but He wanted the true meaning of the stories He told to be hidden for those willing to seek the truth. He spoke parables to the multitudes, but in plain language to His disciples. He waited until after the crowds had dispersed to explain what was really happening.

The disciples enjoyed intimacy with Jesus. Intimacy changes the way we communicate with God. True revelation is reserved for those willing to engage in passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ. If we do not live our lives in pursuit of Him, His will for our lives will seem like a mystery. But when we intimately encounter Jesus Christ, He will make His will known!

Seek Him in prayer. Ask Him to explain His will and His word. Listen for His answer.

Prayer:

Father, thank You that I can always pursue You intimately! I know that if I seek, I will find; if I ask, You will answer; if I knock, You will open the door. I want to know Your will for my life, and intimacy is the answer!

Day 19: Our Position of Privilege

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Monday, January 19th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 39:1-41:16
Matthew 12:46-13:23
Psalm 17:1-15
Proverbs 3:33-35
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1dJrj8r

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matt 13:16-17).

God has filled us with His Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit descended on the Day of Pentecost, and the Bible never says He re-ascended to leave us alone! The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead still lives in us (Rom 8:11).

Old Testament prophets, priests and kings spent their entire lives yearning to hear from God the way we can. Angels long to understand the Gospel from the perspective we enjoy every single day: a first-hand account of God’s infinite and permanent forgiveness (1 Pet 1:12).

We enjoy an amazing position of privilege. When we want to hear from God, all we have to do is pray. When we need to receive from God, all we have to do is ask! We get to enjoy a life that Old Testament prophets, priests and kings could have only dreamed of enjoying!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for filling me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You invite me to boldly approach Your throne, in the Name of Jesus. Help me never to take my position of privilege for granted!

Day 18: Are You A Dreamer?

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Sunday, January 18th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 37:1-38:30
Matthew 12:22-45
Psalm 16:1-11
Proverbs 3:27-32
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/LgP3Xp

 

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words” (Gen 37:8). Joseph dreamt of greatness. God put dreams and visions in Joseph’s heart that displayed the future God would create for him. He shared his dreams with his brothers.  Yet instead of pledging their love and support in accomplishing God’s will for Joseph’s life, they hated him.

Be careful who you share your dreams with. Are you sharing your dreams with people who will work with you to accomplish God’s will for your life? Or are you sharing them with people who will cut down the words God has put into your heart?

People will hate you for your dreams. If they don’t, you’re not dreaming big enough! More specifically, Satan will do everything he possibly can to make sure your dreams don’t materialize. Yet God promises us full and complete authority over all the power of the enemy (Lk 10:19).

No one can derail your dreams except for you. Let the haters hate. You get back to dreaming.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the vision and purpose You have pronounced over my life! Thank You for depositing dreams into my heart that only You can fulfill. I will not allow the enemy to deter me from pursuing them!

Day 17: He Healed Them All

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Saturday, January 17th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 35:1-36:43
Matthew 12:1-21
Psalm 15:1-5
Proverbs 3:21-26
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1kFAP2H

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (Matt 12:15). When we follow Jesus, He heals us. A crowd of witnesses had heard how Jesus healed the man with a withered hand in the synagogue (Matt 12:13). They made the decision to follow Him, and they were all healed: every single one.

For us, the word “follow” does not simply mean to trail behind, but rather to “accompany as an attendant” (Strong’s #190). To follow Jesus means to become His disciple, and agree to conform our lives in service to Him.

The cost of following Him – true discipleship – is high; but the reward is infinite! All who follow Him will be healed; and all who follow Him will enjoy eternity in Heaven!

Prayer:

Father, help me to count the cost of true discipleship. I want to genuinely follow Jesus. I know that as Your Holy Spirit teaches me to follow Him, I will be healed from the inside out. Thank You!

Day 16: The Least is Greater

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Friday, January 16th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 32:13-34:31
Matthew 11:7-30
Psalm 14:1-7
Proverbs 3:19-20
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1eMaaKt

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt 11:11).

Did you know you’re called to be a prophet? John the Baptist was the greatest prophet to have ever lived. He was the man who had been handpicked by God to pave the way for salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus says that the least in His kingdom is a greater prophet than John the Baptist!

We see a similar statement in John 14:12: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” Jesus calls us to become more like Him; but He doesn’t stop there. He calls us to perform greater works through the power of His Holy Spirit!

God promises that when we trust in Him, we will be more prophetic than John the Baptist, and perform even greater miracles than Jesus. Even though we might be the least in His Kingdom, we are destined for the greatest reward: life eternal with our Father in Heaven.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for calling us to greater works! I accept the privilege it is to be called a greater prophet than John the Baptist; I also accept the responsibility to represent Your word well. Help me to become intimately familiar with Jesus’ works, so that I can go out and do greater, through the power of His name!

Avoiding Negativity

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Avoiding Negativity’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 1/11/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1C5S6sg

Life and Death

Many of us grew up with an old adage: “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you.” This was an attempt, by parents and teachers, to toughen us up and prepare us for a world where speech is uncensored and people can say anything they want. The truth is, however, that names – more generally, words – are far stronger than sticks and stones. Our words make a difference.

A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. – Prov 18:20-21

The productivity of our speech – the fruit of our mouth – determines whether or not we will be satisfied (“filled;” v 20 above). We have the ability to speak life over our circumstances, our bodies, and our friends and family. Those who appreciate that fact will enjoy the reward of that understanding. Those who do not respect the tongue, however, are in danger of speaking out death instead of life.

In the Creation Story, God spoke the earth into existence. The Psalmist recalls this with reverence and awe:

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. – Ps 33:9           

Everything around us is the result of God’s Word, spoken out into an atmosphere filled with His Holy Spirit (see Gen 1:2). Without God’s spoken word, everything we see around us would not exist.

Genesis 1:27 says that we are made in His image. In other words, our mandate is the same: speak life into circumstances and situations where His Holy Spirit is ready to effect change. Just as God’s words are incredibly powerful, so too are ours.

Mythbusters, a popular television show known for investigating scientific claims, conducted an experiment to determine if human speech could affect plant growth. The hosts of the show took 60 pea plants and divided them into groups. The soundtrack of a human voice was played over some of the plants, and others received complete silence.

This study[1] found that the plants that grew in silence produced smaller biomass (overall plant size) and smaller pea pods (seed size) than those that had been exposed to the human voice. So, what’s the implication?

Creation – our environment – responds to our words. When we speak, creation listens. Paul spoke about this to the Church at Rome:

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. – Rom 8:19-22

Creation, collectively, is waiting and groaning. But for what? For sons and daughters of God to understand the power of our words, and to rise up to the challenge presented by the responsibility we have been given.

God has given us the power of life and death in our tongues. Creation is waiting, ready to respond, for us to speak life and redemption into the world surrounding us. Are you ready to rise to the challenge?

Your Words Matter for You

The words you speak over yourself are incredibly significant. You have the power to speak life over your own body and situation, or death: through sarcasm and negativity. If you live in New York City like me, the pervasive attitude is negative speech; but that is a poison which we must avoid at all times.

The words we speak over ourselves have a direct effect on whether or not God’s blessings will materialize in our lives. God is a good God. He wants to bless us. In fact, the first thing God did after forming man was to bless him (Gen 1:28). That sets the precedent for His intent for all of human history. But we can actually prevent God’s blessings from reaching us by blocking them with curses we speak over ourselves. We can shut off the rivers of living water He intends to wash over us with negative speech.

When we speak negative words out over ourselves, we partner with negativity: we’re quite literally agreeing with everything Satan would have us proclaim for our life, instead of declaring what God wants us to assert. Do you see the danger here?

We see Saul fall into this trap. He makes a few mistakes as King of Israel, and is quite clearly no longer fit for the throne. Yet instead of repenting and asking God to bless him, he partners with Satan through negative speech. He recited the exact words Satan would love for him to say, and allowed destruction to enter his life:

So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice. – 1 Samuel 18:5-11 (bold added by author)

As the women of Israel celebrated Israel’s military victory, they said something about Saul that he didn’t like. Instead of adopting an attitude of joy because of everything the women had spoken about David, he adopted an attitude of hate because their words about David were more spectacular than their words about him.

Saul’s first spoken response was a negative one: “Well, David might as well just take the whole Kingdom!” Instead of taking everything he had just heard to prayer, Saul agreed with everything the naysayers were saying about him. He partnered with negativity – with Satan – and allowed him into his life.

The result was terrible. First, the enemy controlled his speech:

And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit…came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house… – 1 Sam 18:10

“Prophesy” in this verse does not have the positive connotation it usually carries. The text specifically states that Saul “prophesied” under the influence of an evil spirit. Saul was not uttering speech from God, under the influence of the Holy Spirit; but from Satan, under the influence of a distressing spirit. He continued to speak out negativity.

But it didn’t stop there. The distressing spirit also controlled his actions. In verse 11 above, we see that Saul tries to kill David! This was an all-out war on Saul’s sanity, and the enemy gained ground as Saul partnered with him through negative speech.

The most pervasive example of negative speech is an acronym of which you’ve probably heard: FML. If you don’t know what it stands for, do a quick Google search. I see it on social media all the time; I also hear people speak the full-length version over themselves in public. I even see some people hash-tagging it! Don’t make this a trend in your life. In fact, if we know each other and I ever see you say this on social media, we’re going to have problems.

If you proclaim “FML” over yourself, rest assured: your L will be F-ed. It seems like a harmless saying, but this is the type of negative speech we’ve adopted. Instead of speaking blessing over our bodies and our lives, we speak curses. What seems like harmless sarcasm erupts into an invitation for negativity in every area of our lives. Instead, we should be saying “BML!”

When you’re encountered by negative circumstances, how do you respond? Our first words in reaction to negative circumstances are incredibly important. They set the tone for our emotions, and more generally determine God’s ability to work in and through our situation.

Gary Selman, from the Center for Christianity in Business at the Houston Baptist University, puts it like this:

“Words are the building blocks that pave the road to our destiny. Words shape and determine our thinking; our thinking shapes and determines our emotions; our emotions shape and determine our decisions; our decisions shape and determine our actions; our actions shape and determine our habits; our habits shape and determine our character and our character shapes and determines our destiny.” [2]

The words we speak over ourselves really do matter. The sooner we come to appreciate that fact, the better.

Your Words Matter for Others

The words we speak over other people also matter! David reflects like this:

“I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” – Ps 39:1

David knew that he had to keep watch over his tongue to avoid speaking out negative things. He committed to watch his mouth, even against speaking out against wicked people.

There are two common applications for this principle. First, we must guard our tongue when somebody says something that offends us. The perfect example is getting cut off in rush-hour traffic; but it also might happen when you’re packed into a crowded subway car and you catch a random armpit to the face. What do you say? Do you condemn that person, or do you bless them? Do you speak out negativity, or breathe life into their bones (see Ezek 37)?

Second, we must refuse to partner in negativity with the people around us. When a friend, family member, or even a random person wants to share their dislike of someone else with you, don’t let them. When a co-worker wants to share lunch and talk badly about your mutual boss, do you change the subject? This is a great opportunity to avoid partnering with them in negativity.

Matthew 18:19 speaks to the power of agreement between two people. We should use that power for good, and not for evil. We must agree through prayer for heaven to come to earth; but refuse to agree to allow hell to move. Do you partner with the people around you in their negativity? Or do you refuse, instead speaking blessings over those very people they seek to curse?

Our Biblical responsibilities in cases like these are very clear:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, 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…” – Matt 5:43-44

First, we are to love them. Got it. Then, we must bless them. Fine; I guess I can make that happen. Then, we are supposed to do good to them?! Hold on one second. Finally, we’re supposed to pray for them! NO WAY!

When someone uses you, persecutes you, hates you and even tries to curse you, our response should be the opposite. Are you praying for the very people you would love to retaliate against? Are you picking random opportunities to bless them when they least expect it, either with kind words or unplanned gifts? What would your office look like if you bought your conniving co-worker a Starbucks gift card and told him God loves him?

Inevitably, we will fall short of our Biblical mandate to respond to hate with love. That reaction runs completely contrary to the tendencies of our flesh. But that does not mean that perfect love should not be our goal. We are supposed to respond with love, so that we may be,

“…sons of [our] Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” – Matt 5:45-48

We are called to a higher standard because we have God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us. If we don’t show love, who else will?

We will be the only Jesus some people see. Are you making His name famous for the right reasons? Are you allowing people to believe that the Gospel message is true, or interfering with their acceptance of Jesus Christ? Are you maintaining an accurate representation of a God who loves all His children?

It is not your responsibility to respond in kind. God promises that He will take care of the people who rub you the wrong way:

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Rom 12:17-21

We don’t have to bless the people around us; we get to. God promises He will take care of everything else. So, you really want to get back at someone? Bless them really good! Then let God take care of the rest.

- by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White and CityLight Church, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael White and CityLight Church with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



[1] http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/talking-to-plants/

[2] http://www.hbu.edu/Choosing-HBU/Academics/Colleges-Schools/School-of-Business/Center-for-Christianity-in-Business-%28CCB%29/The-Kingdom-Economy-TKE/ccbtke-blog/2014/December-2014/The-Power-of-Words.aspx#sthash.2vowHKGk.dpuf

Day 15: Put Him in Remembrance

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Thursday, January 15th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Genesis 31:17-32:12
Matthew 10:24-11:6
Psalm 13:1-6
Proverbs 3:16-18
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1aR60ht

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude’” (Gen 32:12). Jacob was returning home after twenty years in exile. His brother Esau had sworn to kill him in retaliation for Jacob’s deceit. Now, Esau was on his way with 400 trained soldiers. Jacob assumed the worst. But he also trusted in God’s promise.

Jacob knew full well that he had acted dishonestly towards his brother Esau. He was far from perfect, and he did not deserve mercy (Gen 32:10). But God had promised him protection. He knew his trust in God could not fail when he needed it most. He memorized God’s promises, and then repeated them out loud when it seemed like the world was crumbling around him.

When the odds are stacked against you, recite God’s promises out loud. You don’t deserve His mercy; but He has promised it to you just the same. Remind your soul of everything He has promised you. Build your faith by repeating His words. Put God in remembrance, and He will fight your battles with you!

“Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted” (Is 43:26).

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your promises over my life. Help me to internalize them, and give me the courage to repeat them out loud. All I have to do to activate Your promises is repeat them over my life by faith!

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