"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, August 24, 2012

BARK COLLAR - PART 1

Matthew 12:34 (NIV 1984)  "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."



We are experiencing one of the biggest nuisances of our lives.  

Our neighbor's dog barks incessantly.  

Our boys can't even play in the backyard or walk to the back patio to put a can in the recycle bin without this brown monster snarling for a piece of flesh.  He yaps late at night and also early in the morning. 

This dog is truly testing our resolve.  Is it too transparent to say I've had visions of using this animal as target practice with my husbands new rifle?  Or, lacing a juicy steak with antifreeze and tossing it over the fence?

After another "neighborly welcome" while we were out back this morning, I thought, That dog needs a bark collar to zap him when he goes off!  Here I go, pointing my finger at this ridiculous animal.

Bark collar.  Hhmmm.   Maybe I need a bark collar too.  Not that I bark like a dog (at least I hope people don't think I do), but maybe whenever I am about to say something unkind or harsh it would gently shock me into holding my unruly tongue.

Can I get an "Amen?!"  Don't you think there could be a market for these?

The tongue.  
  • A necessary muscle to communicate with, yet a muscle that creates havoc when not controlled.  
  • An instrument with the ability to deliver truth, encouragement, and blessings, and an instrument used to distribute slander, discouragement and anger. 
  •  A tool for benevolence, love and edification and a tool for criticism, crudeness and meddling.  
  • A device that produces gratitude, grace and respect and a device that produces discontent, embellishment and judgment. 
My tongue has exuded both sides of the continuum.  I confess, sometimes I have a foot-shaped mouth.

Two days ago I apologized to my youngest for speaking sharp and short with him.  I felt justified because of his behavior.  In the moment, I was so irritated with him that my intense emotions derailed my calmness.  I was wrong and I knew it.  Man, a bark collar would have been nice for that one!

The words that exit our mouth reveal the nature of what is in our heart.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 12:34, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."  

Jesus is teaching that what is inside of us will come out of us.  When our heart is overflowing with good, then good spills out of our mouth.  When our heart is overflowing with bad, then bad spills out of our mouth.  How we talk is a reflection of who we are.  A wise person said, "The mouth is a tattle-tale and it tells on the heart."

The key is to fill our heart with the right things so the overflow is a sweet fragrance to others and to the Lord.  Filling includes aligning our heart to God's will and His best for our lives.  Furnishing our heart with reputable things doesn't just happen.  The world beckons our attention to dump garbage into our hearts.  We must repel this lure and satisfy our soul with good things that satiate our heart.

What we allow as input affects our output.  We're responsible for the intake in our hearts and we will be held accountable for the carelessness of our words.

We may not have a physical bark collar but, we do have a spiritual one.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and enables us to resist the flesh.  The more we embrace and abide in Christ the easier it is to recognize when the Spirit prompts and convicts.  Even when we are tired, busy, frustrated or impatient we can choose to exercise His will above our own.  

Not one of us has a perfect tongue.  With this truth and understanding of God's desire for our mouths we must strive to keep them in check.  When we fail, seek forgiveness.  When we are tempted, submit to the Spirit.  When we assume we don't have tongue trouble, think again.


Heart Work:
Make conscience effort this week to reflect on what comes out of your mouth.  (At work, at home, at your kids' athletic events, at church etc.)  Make this a moment by moment awareness.  
Also consider your facial expressions and body language when you talk.  Evaluate the good and the bad.

Choose three scriptures from below to memorize this week.  Hide them in your heart.  You will be amazed how these verses will pop in your mind when you are in a difficult situation.

Heart Exam:
When do you find yourself weak with tongue control?

From the list above, what tongue trouble do you struggle with?  What does your tongue say of you?

How proactive are you in getting your tongue under control?  How important does Christ think this is?

Heart Transforming Word:
Proverbs 10:19  (NIV 1984)  "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

Proverbs 12:18 "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

Proverbs 15:1  "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 21:23  "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity."

Matthew 12:36-37 "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Ephesians 4:29 & 31  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."

Ephesians 5:4 "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

James 3:9  "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be."




Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.