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Careful Words

Words of Faith Final

Careful Words

Words of Faith 7-15-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Numbers 22

    [36] When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory. [37] Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn't you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?"

    [38] "Well, I have come to you now," Balaam replied. "But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth."

 

        Balaam, the sorcerer, finally showed up for his appointment with Balak after his donkey had delayed him significantly.  As the king of Moab, Balak was not the sort of man one kept waiting.  He had money and power, and he was used to calling the shots.

       This situation was urgent.  Fear was sweeping through the Moabites because of the huge presence of the Israelites.  Balak desperately wanted Balaam, the renowned diviner, to pronounce a curse on God’s people.  He could not understand why this “hired gun” would arrive late.  “Didn’t I summon you?  Do you think I cannot pay you handsomely?”

         Balaam's reply is profound even if coming from the mouth of a man who was fundamentally pagan and whose primary motivation had been greed.  "I am here now.  But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth."   It is interesting and significant that even this sorcerer had come to such a conclusion. 

         There is a simple but profound truth here.  We must be careful with our words.

         In the ancient world, there was a deep belief in the power of spoken words.  Curses and blessings were of enormous importance.  This was the world in which Balaam traded.  He was a religious mercenary who sold his words to the highest bidder. 

         But suddenly, Balaam was confronted with the reality of the one true and living God.  At least for this situation, Balaam realized that he could not say just anything.  He needed to speak only the words that God put into his mouth.  If only we could be so careful.

         The sad truth is that we live in a world filled with impulsive curses and empty blessings.  Words are tossed about with almost no regard for how they will affect people.  In the world around us, curses abound. Superlatives are abused, and manipulative praise is heaped.  Sadly, this is true even in the popular Christian culture.  It is easy to lose sight of the power and significance of words.

          As Christians, do our words-- our praises and curses-- go to the highest bidder?  Do we go along with the prevailing media culture and jabber on in the name of “Christian talk” or whip up a frenzy at the nearest arena?  Do we dip our barbed political views in the honey of Christianese?  The truth of this text, from the lips of a pagan no less, is that a genuine encounter with God causes us to be more careful with our words than ever, not less. 

           The wisdom of Scripture attests to the power of words and the folly of their misuse.  “Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips” (Eccles. 10:12).  “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word” (Proverbs 15:23).   “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).  “Do you see a man who speaks in haste?  There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).  “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

            The Apostle Paul warned of the deceitfulness of words-- “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 5:6).  Smooth talk and flattery deceive the minds of naive people (Romans 16:18).   And Jesus Himself gave warning concerning our use of words.  “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).

              Our prayer-sought goal, as Lord sanctifies us, should be to discover what Isaiah discovered. Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught (Isaiah 50:4).

 

      Dear Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2004, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.