It’s another of those days where I find a common thread through my daily readings.
Words have power in matters of life and death,
and those who love them will savor their fruit
We say: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ but it’s not true. Long after physical wounds have healed and been forgotten words spoken can cut into us as if we are hearing them afresh and that includes words we speak to ourselves. There’s a reason we memorise and repeat scripture – what we hear we believe.
In Acts 26 Paul is speaking in his own defence. Accused of nothing specific as far as the Romans were concerned, he gets the opportunity to speak the gospel.This verse struck me.
But now I am on trial here for this simple reason: I have hope. I have hope rooted in a promise God made to our ancestors.
Paul is reminding himself that he has something to cling to in this dire and deadly situation in which he finds himself. He’s threatened on all sides but he boldly and clearly declares what he knows. These words encouraged him as well as influenced the hearers. They encouraged him so much that his defence turned into evangelism.
Agrippa:28 Paul, have you so quickly moved on from defending yourself to trying to persuade me to become a Christian?
This lack of concern with anything but being faithful to what God has said and done is seen over and over today in the lives of those being persecuted and martyred for their faith in Christ. They know the power of words in matters of life and death – speaking out about their faith can bring the destruction of property, body and even life.
I’m exhausted. I cannot even speak, my voice fading as sighs.
Every day ends in the same place—lying in bed, covered in tears,
my pillow wet with sorrow.
David is all cried out, no doubt he has poured out his heart in prayer, in pleading, in supplication as his life is threatened by Saul and by his enemies. He’s spoken so much that his voice has given out, hoarse from please and tears he can only lie back and wait. But the fruit of his prayers is affirmed in his last words in this psalm.
The Eternal God hears my simple prayers;
He receives my request.
The fruit of his words could have been despair, we all know people who will always see the worst in every situation. David wasn’t like that, he saw God’s hand in every situation. He had faith in what God had done and could do and chose to turn his heart towards that truth. Even when he starts with weeping that is not where he finishes. It’s where we finish that matters.
1 Chronicles starts with a set of chapters that might make us groan when we have to read them but in amongst the lists of names, we can find gems to encourage us.
18-19 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh …. 20 They defeated the Hagrites and all who were with them because they asked for God’s help during the battle and trusted in Him, and their plea was granted.
Do you think they asked silently? I picture them gathered in a crowd and one voice raised shouting with faith that God would go with them, then another encouraged by the boldness and reminded of what God had done joined in. Then another and another shouting out until the whole mass of men were stirred by the words to believe what God has promised and claimed it.
Words have power. We can use them to build our faith and that of others or destroy it. Let’s choose wisely today.