A Soft Answer

Well, lo and behold, I’ve gotten another one.

This one was sent my way via Jeffrey Miskell, and his blog, “Memories of Caleb.” It is a touching and inspirational blog. I’m very appreciative of this honor. The problem is…I just handed out 15 of these the other day, and, at this point, I don’t follow enough blogs to do another set. So I can’t really follow the rules at this point. So, for my fifteen submissions, refer back to This Entry.

It’s Thursday, and my colonoscopy is tomorrow morning. So, I can’t eat anything after 8am this morning. I can drink “clear” liquids all day, which, apparently includes liquids that aren’t necessarily clear. So I guess I can have my peach tea from Sonic on the way to work. As long as nothing is colored red. Or purple. No problem. Then tonight, I have to drink this “cleansing” stuff. I’ve already mixed the first batch, and have it chilling in the fridge. It smells like lemon-lime glue. I’m really looking forward to that. (In case you can’t see it, there was sarcasm in that typing.) Anyway…I appreciate all prayers and positive thoughts that might come my way during this procedure and the ensuing interpretation of the results.

Now that you’re all thinking about colonoscopies, I’ll move on to the devotional…

Today’s Bible Readings:
Ephesians 1:1-14; Isaiah 62-63; Proverbs 15:1-9

There’s some big stuff in Ephesians. Not that there’s not “big stuff” in the rest of the Bible… But in the beginning of Ephesians, we are first told that God has blessed us with “every spiritual blessing” in Christ. (v. 3) What does that mean? First, we have to note that it says “spiritual,” not “physical,” or “temporal.” We have everything we need, spiritually, in Christ. In verse 4, he continues the sentence. even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (vv. 4-5) There it is. God chose us before the foundation of the world. We were “predestined” for adoption. Anyone who knows me for very long knows that I am a firm believer in “predestination.” I am, as it were, a “five-point Calvinist.” I’m all about the T.U.L.I.P. I believe that the Scriptures teach these principles beyond the shadow of a doubt. And Paul, in Ephesians, teaches some of these truths.
In verse 7, he begins telling us what some of these benefits are. We are redeemed, and we have forgiveness, “according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us.” (vv. 7-8 ) I love that last bit…the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us. That’s just one of the reasons for the title of this blog: “Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God.”
Another great truth that Paul teaches in this passage involves the Holy Spirit. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (vv. 13-14) When we believed in Christ, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit! All believers have the Holy Spirit! Not just those who ask for him. We have the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of what we will finally receive when we step into our final home.

In Isaiah 62, the Lord speaks of Zion’s future glory. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. (vv. 3-4) Interestingly, the word for “Married,” here, is “Beulah.” Hence the old-time popular phrase, “Beulah Land.” And then, beginning in verse 10, Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (vv. 10-12)
In chapter 63, the prophet remembers the steadfast love of God. I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. (v. 7) At the end of the chapter, he prays for mercy from the Lord. Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. (vv. 15-17) This prayer actually continues in chapter 64, which I will read tomorrow.

There are several verses in Proverbs 15:1-9 that deal with how we speak to people. Verse 1 says, A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. That is so true. We are much more likely to get the desired results from people if we speak softly to them. When someone speaks harshly to me, it gets my blood boiling. But it’s not always easy to give a “soft answer,” is it? Verse 4 says, A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. So, not only does the gentle speech turn away wrath, it also gives life. And harsh speaking (or perverse speaking)(why is it “speech,” but “speaking?”) breaks the spirit, which is almost like killing someone. So we should be careful how we speak to people. We should lavish the grace that our Father has lavished on us.

Father, I pray that I might be one who lavishes your grace on others, just as you have lavished it on me. I pray that my speech would be gentle and soft; that it would bring life and turn away wrath. Give me wisdom to think about words before I say them. Activate that filter in my brain that processes things before they come out of my mouth. Then soften my heart, so that what ever does come out of my mouth will reflect what is in my heart.
I praise you for the glory that we will share in our eternal “Zion.” It is beyond imagination. I thank you that you have given us the Holy Spirit as a seal against that day, when we will receive the inheritance which was assigned to us before the foundation of the world. I praise you that you chose me, Father! I cannot thank you enough for my predestination to receive your grace and mercy through my salvation. All glory and honor to you!

I pray for Stephanie today, Lord. She has not been feeling well at all these past couple of days, and she has her psych appointment this afternoon. I pray that that will go well, and that, perhaps some change might be suggested in the medications that could help her anxiety issues. I also pray that you would work in Stephanie’s brain to make it function better.

I pray for my day and for my night tonight. I’m not looking forward to this at all, Lord, but it must be. But, as they say, this, too, shall pass. It will be over tomorrow. Give me endurance and faith to get through it.

I pray that Christi will have a good day today and not have much stress to deal with.

I’ll be working on those “soft answers” today.

Grace and peace, friends.

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