Seasoned with Salt: Speak Gracefully

Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. — Colossians 4:6 HCSB

Seasoning is vital to any dish you make. Steak, pasta, or seafood all need the appropriate mix of spices to wow a person’s palate. One thing that can cause any dish to be a disappointment is for it to not have enough salt. Watch any cooking show and you’ll see that cooks salt everything from pasta water to ground beef to salads. Salt makes rice pop and adds an extra dose of pizzazz to spaghetti sauce. It’s an appropriate addition to almost any dish and can be found on practically every table in every restaurant. You just can’t go wrong with a dash of salt.

In the book of Colossians, Paul taught the Christ-followers to season their conversations with salt. First, he told them to make the best use of their time. In other words, share the gospel at every opportunity. Paul then went on to tell them to always be gracious in their conversations.

Grace in a conversation is like salt in a dish; you can’t go wrong.

Have you ever eaten a particular dish at someone’s home and been surprised that you liked it? Maybe Brussels sprouts have always triggered your gag reflex. Then Nana serves them one day for Sunday brunch, so you try them to be polite and discover that they’re quite tasty! It’s because they are seasoned in a way that makes them more palatable.

Our conversations with others should be the same way. We don’t always know people’s experiences. They may have had an encounter where the gospel was presented in an aggressive or harsh way or may have a past that causes them to be hesitant to listen. Our conversations should always be well seasoned, and a dash of grace is always appropriate.

Lord, remind me to always season my speech with grace. Teach me to speak the truth, but to speak it in love. May every word that comes out of my mouth point others to You.

Your Turn
Think back to a time when you tried a bite of food that you didn’t expect to like. Now think back to a conversation with someone which had previously been a painful or upsetting one… but this time it wasn’t. You felt heard, loved, understood, given space, respected. That’s truth with grace. Who needs to hear grace (with truth) from you today? Who needs you to be salt? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Devotions from the Kitchen Table

Got Skills?

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!
“And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make.” – Exodus 31:1-6

Reflect
God values the skills of all his people, not merely those with theological or ministerial abilities. We tend to value only those who are up front in leadership roles. We believe the notion that having influence is what really matters. But God gave Bezalel and Oholiab Spirit-filled abilities in artistic craftsmanship. Their work would outlast both Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership.

But neither influence nor longevity is anything. Instead, Moses, Aaron, Bezalel, and Oholiab submitted their skills to God and committed them to doing his work. When we do this, our skills are given great meaning and purpose.

Take notice of all the abilities God gives his people. Don’t diminish your skills if they are not like Moses’ and Aaron’s. Remember, the one you serve is more important than what you do.

Respond
What skills do you have? Have you found a way to use them? Spend time improving the skills you have and talking with God about them. As you do, you may find new opportunities open up for using them.

STAY BLESSED

Coming Together

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:13

If you know how to listen to the voice of God, you can hear Him calling throughout the Body of Christ today. He is calling for unity. He is calling us to lay down our disagreements and come together in preparation for Jesus’ return.
Just the thought of that scares some believers. “How can I unify with someone from another denomination?” they say. “I’m not going to give up my doctrines and agree with theirs just for unity’s sake!”
What they don’t realize is this: scriptural unity isn’t based on doctrine.
Winds of doctrine, according to Ephesians 4:14, are childish. Winds of doctrine don’t unify. They divide and blow people in every direction. The Word doesn’t say anything about us coming into the unity of our doctrines. It says we’ll come into the unity of the faith.
In the past, we’ve failed to understand that and tried to demand doctrinal unity from each other anyway.
“If you don’t agree with me on the issue of tongues,” we’ve said, “or on the timing of the rapture…or on the proper depth for baptismal waters, I won’t accept you as a brother in the Lord. I’ll break fellowship with you.
But that’s not God’s way of doing things. He doesn’t have a long list of doctrinal demands for us to meet. His requirements are simple. First John 3:23 tells us what they are: to believe on the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another.
Once you and I come to a place where we keep those requirements and quit worrying about the rest, we’ll be able to forget our denominational squabbles and come together in the unity of faith. We’ll grow so strong together that the winds of doctrine won’t be able to drive us apart.
When that happens, the devil’s going to panic because the unity of the faith of God’s people is a staggering thing. It’s the most unlimited, powerful thing on earth.
Right now all over the world, the Spirit is calling the Church of the living God to unite. Hear Him and obey, and you can be a part of one of the most magnificent moves of God this world has ever seen.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Elolam Networks International.

Shortcutting God’s Will

Scripture: Psalm 37:1-9
In sports, construction, and travel, precision timing is essential. Rushing ahead of the plan could result in lost opportunities, future problems, or disaster. God’s plan for our life also contains time-sensitive elements. He orchestrates events to accomplish His will, bring Himself glory, and benefit us. This is why cooperation with His timing is so crucial. Instead of learning this lesson the hard way, consider what happened in the following situations from Scripture:

• Abraham and Sarah tried to gain the promised son through Hagar, resulting in domestic discord and anger (Gen. 16:1-6).
• Rebekah and Jacob used deception in an attempt to gain the Lord’s blessing, and Jacob became a fugitive (Gen. 27:1-43).
• Becoming impatient for Samuel’s arrival, King Saul offered the sacrifice himself, and God took away his kingdom (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Refusing to wait for God’s plan brings heartache and closes doors. But trusting in the Lord’s wisdom, believing His promises, waiting for His timing, and committing our way to Him will bring the blessings of obedience.

There are no shortcuts to God’s will, and His path for us may not be easy. To cooperate with Him, we must die to self, relinquish our own desires and plans in order to pursue His, and understand that we are His servants.

Coming up with a plan and rushing ahead may seem like the best approach, but who is better qualified to lead the way—you or God? One pathway is filled with fretting and uncertainty, but the other leads to rest and blessing. Which will you choose?

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

Why We Should Pray Scripture

Jesus understood the power of God’s Word. So did David. And Moses. And the apostle Paul. And the prophets of the Old Testament. And countless other heroes of the faith. That’s why they quoted Scripture in their private interactions with God.

Here are three things you’ll discover if you follow their lead:
Praying God’s Word solidifies your relationship with the Lord.
In order to incorporate Scripture effectively into your prayer life, you have to spend time in its pages. You have to study God’s interaction with people in good times and in bad. You have to examine the way he makes all things work according to his purposes. You have to come face to face with the fact that no situation is ever beyond his control. You have to make note of his goodness, his mercy and his grace.
And you can’t do those things without developing a deeper appreciation and love for the One who loves you beyond all measure and has a unique plan laid out for your life.

Praying God’s Word fosters a healthy perspective toward Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is alive and active.” It’s not some relic from a bygone era or an ancient religious history book. It’s a tool, a weapon—a source of power, encouragement and inspiration that’s every bit as potent today as it was three thousand years ago.

To use God’s Word in prayer is to tap into its power —
• to claim the promises that Moses clung to;
• to marvel at the wonders of creation that blew David’s mind;
• to connect with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe as Job did;
• to find comfort and strength in our heavenly Father’s presence as Jesus did.

Praying God’s Word encourages an active and creative approach to prayer.
Incorporating Scripture into your prayers shows that you’re not content to rattle off rote words of praise, thanksgiving or supplication. Praying God’s Word requires forethought and preparation. When you pull Scripture into your prayer time, you’re saying to God, “This isn’t something I want to rush through. This is something I want to savor, enjoy and make the most of.”

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from NIV Devotional Articles.

Three Mental Barriers to Hearing God’s Voice

“Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” –  James 1:21 NLT.
We’ve all noticed that the reception quality on a cell phone varies widely. The same is true with you. You must be positioned correctly to hear God speak.

Sometimes we don’t give God a chance to talk to us. We’ve made up our minds. We want to do what we want to do, not what God wants us to do. Our hearts are hardened, and we’re unwilling to listen.

When you have a closed mind, of course he’s not going to talk to you!  But if you really want to hear from God — and what believer doesn’t? — you have to understand what is keeping you from hearing from God. Here are three mental barriers that keep your mind closed to God’s message.
1. Pride. If you think you don’t need God in your life and you want to handle things yourself, you’re probably not listening for God to speak. Pride keeps you from being open to the possibility that God might want to say something to you.

2. Fear. A lot of people can’t hear God because they’re afraid to hear God speak. Maybe you think that hearing God’s voice or sensing his leading makes you some kind of religious fanatic.

3. Bitterness. When you hold on to hurt, resentment, or a grudge, you’re not going to be able to hear God, because your heart is hardened. It has grown cold and made you defensive, even to God’s love.

Perhaps you have been hurt badly, maybe this week or even years ago, and you’re still holding on to it. I want to tell you that you’ve got to let it go. Not for another person’s sake, but for your sake. The resentment is killing you! Resentment is a self-inflicted wound that allows people from your past to continue to hurt you today. You need to let it go, not because they deserve forgiveness but because you need to get on with your life. You need to get rid of the bitterness, fear, and pride that keep you from hearing God’s voice and living out his purpose for your life.

James 1:21 says, “Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” (NLT).

“Humbly accept” means you let go of your pride and stop trying to figure it out on your own. This is the key to opening your mind and heart so that you can hear from the Lord.

Talk It Over
How do you hear God’s voice or sense his leading? In what ways has he spoken to you?
What changes do you need to make in your life so that you can get rid of the “filth and evil” and hear God’s voice?
Why do we sometimes equate hearing God’s voice with religious fanaticism?

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

Going Against the Flow

Scripture: Psalm 62:1-6
A majority may rule in the culture, but in your personal life, there should be only one ruler—and that’s God. It makes no difference if 10,000 people tell you what you ought to do. Once you have decided to follow the Lord, it’s best to stand right where you are until you get marching orders from Him.

Does this mean we should never take godly counsel? Not at all. It simply means that when we know God hasn’t said to move, we shouldn’t yield to the temptation to please others by following their directives or timeline. In other words, while seeking scriptural advice, believers should also listen for the Holy Spirit’s promptings and warnings. For example, when dealing with your children, you may sense there’s a time to bring up an issue and a time to hold off (Eccl. 3:7).

Sometimes, however, a fear of failure may discourage us from doing things God’s way, making us think, What if things don’t turn out as I planned? What if I’m ridiculed by my peers? But ultimately, we must ask ourselves whether we’re going to listen to God or the world. Remember, you don’t have to fear failure when you obey the Lord. He’s the one who intervenes in times of hardship. And He promises to act in behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isa. 64:4).

Remaining steadfast takes courage. That’s why Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10). All the pressure in the world can’t make you budge when you trust the Rock upon which you stand. With God’s guidance, you can act with complete confidence of a successful outcome.STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

Our Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Scripture: Hebrews 2:14-18
Sometimes when people are estranged, they need a mediator who comes between them to bring reconciliation. This is one way to think of the Old Testament priests. They stood between God and sinful man, offering sacrifices that would reconcile the two.

These earthly priests were a mere shadow of Christ, who came as both the Lamb of sacrifice and the final high priest. God’s Son left heaven to become flesh and blood so He could offer His life on the cross (Phil. 2:6-8). In that way, Jesus set free from sin and death all who believe in Him.

Our Savior was the perfect mediator. Because Jesus was fully God, He was the spotless Lamb the law required (Deut. 17:1). And because He was fully man, it was possible for Him to die. Unlike the earthly priests who repeatedly brought animal sacrifices for themselves and the people, Jesus offered Himself once for all to the Father in payment for the sins of mankind (Heb. 7:27). Then, having satisfied God’s justice with His blood, He was raised to life.

Death did not end the Savior’s role as our High Priest. After the resurrection, Christ ascended to heaven, where He sits at the Father’s right hand and intercedes for us. Having lived on the earth as a man, He understands our weaknesses and gives mercy and grace to help us in times of need (Heb. 4:16).

There’s great comfort in knowing we have a merciful advocate in heaven. His prayers are according to God’s will, so we also have the assurance that the Father will answer every intercession Jesus makes on our behalf.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from InTouch Ministries.

God’s Word is Food for the Soul

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ – Matthew 4:4, NIV
There you have it. If we are going to experience a true spiritual life renewal, we need to know and receive the Word of God, “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10, NKJV)
Without God’s Word we are weak, ignorant vessels, losing our way in this complex world system dedicated to keep us from discovering and living the truth.

Why do you think Job said he treasured God’s Word more than his necessary food? Why do you think Jeremiah said he ate God’s Word when he found it? Why do you think David said God’s Word was more valuable to him than thousands of pieces of gold and silver?
David said, “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:50, NKJV)
Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63, NKJV)

The critical message in these passages of Scripture is, “know and live God’s Word.”  We cannot live without it. God’s Word is food for our soul.

Peter tells us, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19, NKJV)
It is through the Word of God that our mind is renewed, enabling us to discern what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is for our life.

Today, ask yourself:
Do I understand that I need God’s Word as much as physical food in order to live properly in this world?

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from Kingdonomics

Loving God

Scripture: John 14:21-24
If you ask a young man how he knows he’s in love with his girlfriend, there’s a good chance he won’t be able to explain but will simply say, “I just know it.” And those of us who have experienced the joy of falling in love will understand what he means.

But how do we know if we love God? Even though we can’t physically see, hear, or touch Him, our life should contain evidence that testifies to our love for Him.

Jesus’ love for His heavenly Father was perfectly demonstrated by His obedience. Every word, thought, and deed—from the time He left heaven to be born as a baby until His ascension—was done according to His Father’s will and instructions. Their relationship was so intimate that Jesus not only knew exactly what His Father desired but also delighted in obeying Him. (See Psalm 40:7-8; John 6:38.)

If we want to grow in our love for the Lord, we must draw near to Him through His Word. As we learn to know Him intimately, our love will increase and we’ll desire to obey. Unless we invest in Scripture, our fervor for the Lord will fall short of what it could be.

What does your lifestyle reveal about the depth of your devotion to Christ—can others see it clearly in your conversation, character, and conduct? And if you ever feel disappointed that your love for Christ seems small, open the Word of God and obey whatever He says. He will abide with you and disclose Himself, thereby increasing your capacity to love and know Him more.

STAY BLESSED
Source: Culled from InTouch Ministries.