Are Your Words Like Fresh Water?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

When I turn on the faucet, I expect water to pour out. If I plant an apple tree, I expect apples to be produced. No mystery in what is expected from either of these vessels. So, how and why then, do words of blessings, complaining, criticizing and cursing come out of the SAME mouth? Shouldn’t it be consistently one or the other (preferably blessings and words of goodwill, especially for those in the Body of Christ)?

The Bible provides several scriptures on the words produced by our tongue, and the affects thereafter. Here are at least four scriptures on the subject:

 

 

  • Proverbs 18:21- The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (one commentary says “shall receive either good or evil according to the quality of their speeches”).
  • Matthew 12:34-37- “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35- The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36- But I can tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37- For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
  • James 3:6, 8- The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 8-but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
  • James 3:9-12- With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10- Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11- Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12- My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. 

 

spring water

What fruit does your speech produce in your life and in others’ lives? Does your speech speak life and light over those created in God’s image? How are your words used (or not used) when addressing challenging issues—through complaining, criticizing, cursing or with quiet trust, praise, uplifting and thanksgiving?

Our words are conditional to our heart and thoughts. For those of us in Christ Jesus who have truly yielded to His ways, the sanctification process (us being transformed and perfected into Christ’s likeness) is just that: a process. Thankfully, as we desire to be more like Him, He renews our mind and transforms our heart, and thereby, our responses to situations. For me, He is replacing my complaining/grumbling with quiet trust, praise and thanksgiving. Whether waiting for a delayed train while sweating in the smoldering heat and humidity, or extending patience to the person ahead of me who is proceeding slowly, I choose to not complain. I have more gratitude in all situations.

As he continues to transform my heart and mind, my words, my tongue will produce His desired intention of those words springing forth.  I am grateful for His merciful and patient striving with me.

We are reminded as His vessels to use our words in such ways that we “are joyful always,” and to  17-“pray continually, 18- give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

From your one mouth, may words of light, restoration, blessing and thanksgiving flow in your life and others.

Proverbs 16:24- Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

God bless you,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

 

 

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Be Encouraged

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. –Numbers 6:26 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” Psalm 4:6. Like the smiles of a father upon his child, so it is with the Lord who looks upon his children with an inviting countenance. Bless you all you people in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And what is a blessing? It is none other but God’s favor and protection. His sanction and support. He blesses us directly by way of common grace or blesses us through his appointed and anointed ministers. Such was one of the responsibilities of the Lord’s appointed leader of the Israelites, Moses. He was to lead, encourage and bless his own people.

For the Bible says, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” –Numbers 6:22-27

Child of God (insert your name within this blessing): It is for you! For when we bless God it is only our speaking well of him; his blessing us is doing well for us. What business do we have worrying constantly when our Lord Jesus Christ already commanded us on this matter? Three times he commanded us in chapter 6 of Matthew, “Do not be anxious. “We ought to take Jesus’ exhortation to examine the birds of the air: “they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” –Matthew 6:26

Numbers 6 24-26 sunset

Are you discouraged because you’re unsure of how you’re going to pay that next bill? Are you worried about that upcoming exam you have to take? Are you concerned about the prospects of your unknown future? Take courage! Your Heavenly Father knows what you need “but seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34

Christian man, Christian woman realign your thoughts! “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 For the Bible says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” –Isaiah 26:3 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Yet, my heart pleads with the unbeliever. For he or she can never have this peace and encouragement. His or her life is fleeting seeking to be filled from one accomplishment or material thing after another. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

There are only two kinds of people in this world. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 It’s my sincere prayer that you would seek Christ. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Be encouraged and be blessed!

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

Are You Ready?

Philippians 2:13- For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Were you ready two years ago for the plans God had for you? Were you ready three years ago for the blessings God is bestowing upon you? Is it possible to fathom that the fruits of your endeavors would begin to ripen? Thus, “he will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

This is the reason we are given things in allotments at different periods of our lives. These allotments are to be used and not saved for a later date. For these blessings have a purpose, which is to multiply, instead of being cached away. Therefore, may we shield ourselves in the cloak of humility to handle the limelight, because now the world is watching. May we protect ourselves with the helmet of strength to thwart the onslaught of negativity and doubt that seeks to seep into our minds. Hence, the sword pushes back the enemy and our journey continues step by step.

#Godsway

Herbert writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He is also the founder of B.T.E.P. (Bringing Together Extraordinary People), a Charlotte, N.C.-based nonprofit with a mission to unite professional athletic organizations in accordance with their neighboring counties in the Greater Charlotte area, and to improve underprivileged athletic programs and share in the duty of empowering disadvantaged youth within their communities.

Learn more about Herbert Bowen, Jr., here

Christmas Interrupted Brings Unexpected Blessings

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories was spent in the hospital. My father is a pastor and on that particular Christmas Day, he received a phone call asking if he would visit a terminally ill patient. Sure enough, my parents packed us girls in the car and we were on our way. My older sister and I spent much of the day in the hospital cafeteria waiting for our parents. Surprisingly, we did not have a bad attitude in waiting. We knew our parents were called to ministry and understood the importance of them doing the Lord’s work. When we left, it was far too late for us to drive home and ask my mother to make Christmas dinner since the hospital was well over an hour away from our house. My father, like any good man, decided to hunt for food for his family. We eagerly drove around the snowy Detroit streets looking for open restaurants.

As you might have guessed, everything was closed except for a Chinese restaurant. That is where we would enjoy our Christmas dinner. As the only family in the restaurant, all we could do was laugh as we slurped our hot won ton soup. God is good. It wasn’t how we planned our day but somehow we felt more together that Christmas than any other. Sometimes breaking tradition to be a blessing to someone else becomes a hidden blessing for you.

Merry Christmas dear brothers and sisters. May this Christmas be filled with new traditions of serving Him. After all, it’s His birthday, so let’s do His will.Star of Bethlehem

Luke 2:1-14 (KJV) 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace good will toward men.

-Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Every Praise Is to Our God

Luke 17:19-And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith has made thee whole. (New Living Translation)

Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

We have been healed. We have been blessed. We have been granted life through Christ. All of which are treasures to be stored in heaven where no rust can decay it. Moreover, we must not forget the goodness of these gifts, treating them as ancillary items. Don’t let the primary gifts of wealth, materials, and love become the scales by which we measure gratitude. For example, the Lord healed 10 lepers, but only one returned to give glory to the Divine Healer. Thus, may the actions and general sentiment of this man be mimicked, in order for us to maximize our thankfulness for the life we were given, instead of the life we fantasize about. May we find joy in the eternal, instead of the temporal. For in the end, this world will fade away and our soul will live on. Hence, ARISE and give God some praise. For the life you were blessed with was uniquely designed FOR YOU, so don’t take it for granted. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

 

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management.

Day and Night

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:6-9 (New Living Translation)

This passage of scripture reminds us of a time in the past where the nation of Israel should have been afraid. For their leader, a godly man named Moses, just passed away. Now who would lead the people into the Promised Land? The Lord gave that special charge to Joshua and God assured Joshua that just as he was with Moses so he would be with him. –Joshua 1:2-5. Yet, this was a conditional promise. For Joshua had to study the book of instruction, meditate on it day and night, and obey what was written in it. Only then would he and the Israelites prosper and succeed in everything they did. At that time, their book of instruction is what our Bible is today.  Although, the Bible was written thousands of years ago, its content is still applicable to us today and was written for us.

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” –2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Word of God (Bible) teaches us His will and purpose for our lives. It is the very mind of God on paper that was imparted to us and for our benefit. He speaks to us through it. Not only can the word give us direction but it also encourages us and gives us courage to face a world and its many contradictory belief systems on how to truly live a successful godly life. The psalmist knew this very well when he said, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”-Psalm 119:105

Truth is, although it may look like many people have the appearance of success and seem to get along without reading and absorbing the Bible, whatever one acquires outside of God’s will eventually turns to ashes. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”-James 1:22. If you are reading this today and forget everything tomorrow, remember this, OBEDIENCE ALWAYS BRINGS BLESSINGS.

Friend, I encourage you today to stay in the Word of God each day and each night. But don’t do it because God commanded it although we should. Do it because he loves you and you love him. For Jesus said “if you love me, obey my commandments”-John 14:15. God wants the BEST for you friend and he wants to show you all that he has for you. Yes! He is faithful and will keep his promises. I am a witness. Just as he was with those who came before us so he will be with us. Indeed, “No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced.” –Psalm 25:3

-Jason M. Alexandre

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born on November 29, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York. However, at two years old he and his family moved to Philadelphia, PA. Later, Jason moved to Limerick, PA where he now resides. Jason is currently working toward obtaining his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the great commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the gospel to be spread from nation to nation. On a yearly basis, Jason primarily goes to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year Haiti Christianity visits different cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothes, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly evangelization takes place. Jason is currently their public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to be spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively.