Chris Hodges - Taming the Tongue
Oh, it's so good to see all of you here today in church. Who's glad to be here today, anybody? Yeah. Oh, it's so good to see you. And now, for a couple of weeks and I miss you, it's always good to see you guys. And big hello to all of our campuses that are meeting all across our area. God bless you guys today to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. Pray for you every single day, love you, we believe in you. It's our joy to bring not only this service, but all that we are as a church into those facilities. Thank you to the state of Alabama for allowing us to do that. And of course, we have people that are still having church at home, about 60% are still worshipping at home.
We're so glad we have technology and can bring that to you. We can't wait for you to come back, though. We're looking forward to the day that you can come. Nothing like being in the room, isn't that right, everybody? And so, we're glad though. We're glad you're with us. But today, I want you to put your hands together and say hello to your newest church family members. We launched today the Troy campus, whoo. I know. So, to Pastor Blake and Savannah Cotter and the team there, the dream teamers, and all of those that are setting things up, and thank you so much, God bless you guys. It's been a long time coming, and we're so glad now to call your family and to have a service there available for you in that beautiful, beautiful city.
So, we're in a nine-part series that we call it, where we're doing a book study. So, a couple times a year, we take a book of the Bible and just go verse by verse. And we decided several weeks ago to go through the book of James really because of the way the book of James begins. It starts this way, it says, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations". The book was actually written to a church that wasn't able to meet. Everybody wasn't able to be together yet. It was actually during a season of persecution. It was a trying time, not only geographically scattered, but I think emotionally in their hearts scattered as well.
And James writes this very, very practical book, just five chapters. You could read it, the whole thing in about 15 minutes, but we're going to break it down into nine different parts, nine different topics. And again, they're so practical, and I think they speak to the season that we're living in right now. And I'll just warn you straight up, of the nine, this might be the toughest. In fact, you might want to go ahead and pick your toes off the floor right now 'cause they're about to get stepped on, all right? This is a tough one, all right? 'Cause today, we're talking about, drum roll, taming the tongue, all right? Yeah, I know.
So, it starts in chapter 3, but there's already a verse that we covered three weeks ago when I taught chapter 1. I told you I'd come back to it, but let me read the verse in chapter 1, then we'll come back to chapter 3. But it goes like this, it says, "If you claim to be religious but you don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless". It kind of beats around the bush a little bit, right? And so, should we have an altar call and get it over with right now? Yeah, okay, 'cause man, isn't it true? We're living in probably one of the most vicious cultures ever, at least in my lifetime, where people will say just about anything to anyone. Doesn't matter if they're an authority or not, doesn't matter, man. Like wa wa wa wa, va va va va va.
You know, they just, we'll throw it out there. And we're in a generation of commenting and saying what I think, the moment I think it. That you're going to find out is not a safe place to be. In fact, as we break down these about 12 or 13 verses in chapter 3, there are three things that really show the power of one's tongue. And I'll just tell you straight up, God takes this a whole lot more serious than I think we take it. So, I think sometimes Christians put sins in categories. We have like these massive, you know, adultery, murder, you know? Just we have this whole pile over here, like you know, I would never do that. And then there's this kind of grey area pile that, you know, lying, flattery, you know, boasting. Well, actually, God has those in a bigger pile.
In fact, there's only one place in the Bible where God says there are things that I absolutely hate, and three of the six are about the tongue. When you go through the book of Proverbs, which has a lot of sayings and wise sayings, most of them are about the tongue. Old Testament and New, this is a big deal to God, and there's a reason why. And James kind of breaks it down. Now, this message was inspired by a mentor of mine, Pastor Rick Warren, so I have to give him a little shout out here. He's a brilliant teacher, and I learned so much watching some of the things that he had to say on the topic, so I just wanted to throw that out there. But there are three things that James teaches us when it comes to the power of the tongue. And if you're a notetaker, I want you to jot these down, all right? And if you're not a notetaker, jot these down.
All right, so here they go, all right? And number one is that my words determine the direction of my life. So, you may not realize that, but you actually are right now today what words you have received that have been spoken over you. Now, good and bad, by the way. I think we're the sum total of our relationships and the words that those people have said over our life. In fact, you tend to become what the most influential person in your life says you would become. May not have realized that, but you received it, it kind of set a course of your life, and it's very, very true.
Both the ones you have received and the ones you have said and are saying can actually set the course of what your life looks like, which makes that very important 'cause I know you care where your life is going to end up. Watch how he says it, it's very interesting in verse 3. "We can control very large horses by something very small, just by putting this little metal bit into the horse's mouth. By controlling their mouth, we turn the whole animal whatever," and here's the word, "whatever direction we want it to go".
And then he gives another example, "Or take ships as an example. A tiny rudder makes this massive vessel, this ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong". So, you may be pushing it in one direction, no, no, but the rudder's determining where it goes. I know that's true for my own life. I look back over my life and I didn't allow many, but I allowed a few negative words to land. And I had to deal with those at one point in my life. But for the most part, I am very, very blessed and fortunate. I had wonderful people speaking over me. Every single day of my life, my dad told me he loved me and believed in me. He was a tough man, he was kind of strict, and he liked things done a certain way. But he was always very, very tender and kind, and spoke words of life over me.
I remember growing up in the Baptist church that we grew up in, I've been in church my entire life and went to Sunday school. I didn't care for church much, but I loved Sunday school. Church was kind of boring, but Sunday school was great, you know. And I had this third grade Sunday school teacher named Mrs. Fraizy. I cannot tell you the name of any of the other Sunday school teachers in my life, I can tell you the name of Ms. Fraizy. She was the kindest. In fact, the others, I had a couple of them that they talked about hell like they had been there, you know what I'm talking about? I mean, they just, they were rough. But Ms. Fraizy was so sweet, and she's kind of, she's one of those old ladies that's got, you know how some people, you hug them and they just, it just, it feels like a blanket?
You know, of course they got the little thing that jiggles down here too, but all that helps, right? It just love, it just, I don't know, man, she walked in, "Oh Chris," and she'd give big hug. And she was prophesying over me before I knew what prophecy was. She was saying things about my future that I can look back now and say, "Oh my goodness, this lady". In fact, when I got much older, when I was in college at LSU, help us, God. Anyway, but I told y'all the coronavirus was unsafe, we should cancel the season. Anyway, so just thought I'd throw that out there. But when I was a student at LSU, which is on the south side of Baton Rouge, she lived in this little shotgun house in north Baton Rouge. I made an effort every week to go by her house. I'm like 19, 20 years old to go see this shut in, no longer teaches Sunday school, Ms. Fraizy, because the way she impacted my life.
By the way, I have taught our children's church volunteers, I've told them this story. And I looked into the eye of every single one of them and said, "Hey, yeah, run the play, do the program, teach the lessons, sing the songs, show the video. But really your biggest job is to look them in the eye and say, 'I believe in you,' and to prophesy over them". And yeah, can we put our hands together and thank God for our dream teamers? They're doing it right now to your, if you have kids. And by the way, some of you should become a Ms. Fraizy. Like some of you are like, "I don't know where... this church is so big, what should I do"? We don't have enough people who just go to the growth track and get into one of those classes.
And when little Johnny or little Susie comes in, I mean, run the play, sing the songs, do the video, but look at them in the eye and say, "God has a plan for your life". And believe in them and be one of the greatest ministries ever, so I'm just throwing that out there. It's very important. And then you got to think about not only the words that we've received, but also the words that we speak. I was just thinking about some of the stories of the Old Testament. I think about the children of Israel, when they were leaving with Moses out of Egypt and God gave them food out of heaven called manna, well, they got sick of manna. And they started complaining about what God had given them. They started saying, "Oh, we miss the leaks and onion and garlic in Egypt".
And not one of them ended up in the Promised Land because of their complaints. Their tongues, their mouths set the course of their lives. I think about young people, I mean, let me just go ahead and say this to you young people. Just listen to me, just trust an old guy here, all right? Let me tell you something, you got to be careful about what you say about your parents. "Yeah, but if you met them, you'd cuss at them. I promise you, PC". No, no, no, no, if someone curses their father or mother, watch what happens, the lamp gets snuffed out. The lamp is the thing that directs your life. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, it lights up my path. Do you know that you'll miss the direction of your life if you're a person who's known of cursing your parents? "Yeah, but they're mean, they're terrible. They don't even love God".
It doesn't matter, you honor your father and your mother. Can I say that? Is that all right, everybody? Because we live in this society, it's like, "Well, I'm just going to say it like it is". No, you're not. No, no, no, no. I think about the children of Israel, when Joshua now, they're trying to get to the Promised Land. And they decided to send out 12 spies, one from every tribe, to go into Canaan and to see if they can take it. And the Bible says that ten of them came back with a negative report, a negative, I call it a negative confession. By the way, some of us have had a negative confession even about this year. "Oh my God, pastor, look, 2020, my Lord, it's just the worst year ever".
Well, probably it will get worse from now on then. I don't know about you, but I still got two and a half months to go to turn the course of this year around. I'm serious. Y'all think As one guy says, "I'm not preaching, I'm telling y'all the truth". This is I'm serious. Yeah, Caleb, Caleb quieted the other ten and said, "Let us go up today at once and take possession". Say the words and yell it out loud, come on, every campus, "For we are..." Oh yes, we are.
Listen to me, look at me. I'm trying to fire you up, by the way. 'Cause one of the things that I've noticed about 2020, there's a lot of long faces. My God, the election, Lord Jesus, help us all. The economy, oh Lord. My Lord, that coronavirus. I mean, come on, you know? Yes, yes, I'm living in the same world you are, but is that going to be your report? Or are you going to be a well able kind of a person? I don't know, I'm just saying you have a choice, and it can change the direction of the rest of your year and even your 2021. But the men, the other ten who had gone up says, "No, we're not able". And I'm just not going to be a not able kind of a person. Let me say it this way, we shape our words, and then our words shape us. And it's very, very true, that's what James is teaching us.
And then in the next verses, he teaches us this, and that is that our words actually have destructive power. They can destroy everything you have. You never have to pick up a gun, a fist. You can do it right here, right here. And he's trying to kind of raise the awareness of what we have thrown around so loosely has power to destroy your career, your family, your kids, "The tongue," he says, in verse 5, "is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark". We saw that this year, by the way, in California. I studied one of the fires that burned half a million acres. They have now traced it back to one person who was a hammering with a metal hammer to a metal tent peg in the ground.
And one little spark that no one even noticed caught some, obviously some dry material, and half a million acres burned from one thing that lasted less than a second. And I wonder sometimes, our less than a one second sparks that are just flying out of our mouth that we don't think much of, it has destructive power. It goes on to say, "The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body". He gets real passive here, watch this. "It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell". I mean, he just throws it out there. And I think really if you wanted to leave this service today with a great takeaway, realize, you know, this thing is way more powerful than we give, than we understand sometimes.
And again, we live in a culture that's almost encouraging you comment, comment, comment again, comment now, comment. And I think it's gotten toxic myself. I'm kind of sick of it. Say, "Well, I'm right". Yeah, but we don't need to hear it. In fact, if you follow the Bible's instructions, if you're a notetaker, jot down these two words, "duration" and "direction". How much we say and what direction it heads in is very, very important. So, the Bible actually says keep it limited. Remember in chapter 1, it says, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak". Like let it be really slow. Proverbs says it this way, "Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your..." Y'all ought to put this on your refrigerator, "Keep your mouth shut".
I actually failed at this verse this week if I may confess my sins. You know, they say confession's good for the soul, but bad for the reputation? Here we go, all right? I was actually on the phone this week with a pastor friend of mine. I don't even know what came over me. This is not my nature, I never do this. And I started talking about another church and pastor. Just 'cause we both know him, and I don't know why, I just started talking about him. And it wasn't horrible, but it was just, you know, I just started saying about something they did that I thought was dumb, and just like I can't believe they did this, and I didn't like this.
Like, well I'm not a member of that church, I don't tithe to that church. I'm not in their government. Like I don't even know why I said that. And I hung up the phone and, of course, y'all know I'm old when I do it that way. I hung up the phone and... I hung up the phone, and so the second I did, I felt conviction. I just felt the Holy Spirit. Here I am studying all week for y'all to tell you to do this, and I thought, "That's not good". So, I just picked the phone right back up. Yes, I picked the phone up just like this and said, "Bro, I just not have said that. I should've kept those comments to myself. Please forgive me". And I think we ought to get back in that mode, instead of saying everything we think, just less words are better.
One verse says, "Where words are many, sin is not absent". Well, let's be careful about that. Not only the duration or the amount, but also the direction. So, let me say it this way, I'm not saying you have to like everything, I'm just not sure what you don't like needs to go in every direction. I'm going to say that again. It's okay for you not to like some things. I tell this to my staff, we actually had this as a staff value. 'Cause I don't want to be the leader of a bunch of yes people. And I don't want to stand up and just tell everybody, "Hey, this is the way we're doing it. I'll pay you and you shut up".
I don't lead that way. I actually tell my staff, "If I'm doing something that's not right, you're free to have a better idea. You're even free to say, 'PC, I don't think that's the way we ought to do it, I don't like that.'" You're free to not like some things that I do as a leader, but you better make sure that that comment goes in the right direction once you think it. 'Cause if it's just sending it to people that are, you know, your peers or those below you, then those are... they can't do anything about it. I teach them go to your direct report, say to them or anybody, go up with it, not down. And make sure it heads in the right direction or it turns into gossip.
By the way, the same is true for you and me. You can be negative, but if you put it in the wrong direction, it turns into something very toxic and gossipy. The way we actually say it is pass negatives up and only praise down. And I just thought, boy, this would be a great value for all of us to embrace as we live our lives. But here's the kicker, here's the big one actually that James teaches. And I think it brings it actually to a moment where I'm not just teaching you anymore where you can experience the power and presence of God that can change your life. And that is that my words, really what it's doing is revealing what's down inside that well. My words reveal my heart. I mean, what's coming up out of the bucket was what was down in the well.
And if we have a bunch of nasty language, critical language, I mean, condemning people, putting people down, always just, you know, cutting somebody down, there could be something that else is going on inside of our hearts. Look how he says it, it's very interesting to me. "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings". So, in other words, you have a war going on. You love God. You're not, I mean, you're like, "Praise God, what a beautiful name it is". And then get out there and start, as soon as you get in the car, with our text. He says, "Who have been made in God's likeness".
So, first of all, what you're complaining about is someone that God loves. "And out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be". Now, watch where he goes next 'cause it almost sounds like a new topic, and it's not a new topic. 'Cause he says, "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring"? Springs in the Bible were always what was going on inside of you. Springs were always a metaphor of the heart in Scripture. "My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives and a grape vine bear figs"? And he says it again, "Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water". What is he saying? He's saying like the real problem isn't my tongue, it's my heart. That if you have some of this filthy language, or critical, or you're negative, don't just work on some of the things that I'm telling you today. We have to ask God to take a look inside of our hearts.
Now, I like that 'cause God can fix that. In fact, he says this, and I believe it's in verse 7. He says, "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures are being tamed," these wild things are being tamed. "And have been tamed by mankind, but you're not going to be able to do this one on your own. The human can't tame the tongue". Which means only God can. In fact, your tongue left alone without God is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. So, what do we do? I want to give you three things that I believe can be life transforming. So, when I teach up here, I have the choice of just giving you a bunch of things that you go try this this week, you know, see if that works for you. Or you can leave here a changed person and let God do a work on the inside of you. And here's the first one, that is you have to allow God to change your heart.
So, let me tell you, I've kind of waited all week to say this to all of you because of a conversation I had this week with someone who was asking me about Christianity. I actually had a guy working at my house this week, and I walked out to say hello. He goes, "You're a pastor, right"? Like, "Yeah, I'm a pastor". He goes, "Well, I don't understand some things". He started asking me about Christianity. "Like I don't..." And he was taking it purely from a purely logical standpoint and a purely mental standpoint. And I said, "Well, you'll have that discussion with yourself for the rest of your life". Like any argument can sound good when people are making the argument. Which is, "Well, how do you know? How do you know which one's right or not"? I said, "You can't know, you can only experience". 'Cause I said, "'Cause you can't fake peace, and you can't fake forgiveness, and you can't fake those things. I can convince you in any argument, but I don't need to explain something to you to convince you. You need to experience something to convince you".
And that's Christianity. Like if your heart isn't changed, I'm not trying to be ugly, it doesn't matter how much church is inside of you. Like Christianity's not your church attendance, it's not your religion, Christianity is that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. And the old is gone, the new is come, and God does this work inside of you. I thought of this verse and shared it with him that, "This covenant I will establish," God says. "I will put my laws in their minds and write it in your hearts". In other words, it's not going to be this paper, this book that says, "I stop". Nope, do this, don't do that. No, no, no, it gets written on the inside of you. In other words, it's not what you have to do, it's who you become. And he goes on to say that, "I will be their God, and they will be my people".
No longer will you have teach someone to be obedient with God. No, no, no, "They will know me". They're going to all be in a relationship with me, "From the least to the greatest, for I will forgive their sins and remember their wickedness no more". And some of you in this room, like you're really faithful and you love, you know, you love church and trying to be a good person, but I'm telling you, we have to be transformed. And I say not only transformed, for you guys that already love God, listen to me very carefully, and then ask him to keep doing it to you every day. In fact, I want to give you an assignment for you guys, like a little assignment to kind of try for the week. Here's an actual assignment, I want you to write down this verse in Psalm 19, verses 14.
This is one of the prayers that I try to pray every single day when I have my time with God. And it goes like this, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart". By the way, first of all, notice that they're always connected. "You will never be able to separate your mouth from what's going on inside of your heart". But he says, "But may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer". What I've noticed, I've been serving God for a long time, okay? Forty-two years I've known the Lord. And I still get up every morning and say, "God, today, I need to get my heart right with you. And I know if I get my heart right with you, it's going to affect everything that I do this day, how I speak to people, how I treat people".
I got up very, very, very early this morning, I got up at 4 o'clock this morning, that's early for me. And I just asked God, "God, I need words for people who've been beat up by life, by the news, by the things that are going on your family, by your minds, by just, it's just", and I said, "Lord, I need you to do a work inside of me". And I just worshipped, I worshipped, worshiped some more. Got the victory so I could bring the victory to you guys today, so I can look you in the eye and say, "Hey, God's got you, it's going to be all right. And let me have words that are pleasing not only to God, but to you as well, and encourage you today".
Come on, somebody say amen right there. And what would it look like if you did the same every day? Just one prayer. Got to get my heart right so my words can be right. Get my heart right so my words can be right. But I tell you, that prayer time is not enough all by itself, but I secondly need to now put a filter on what I'm going to allow to enter into that heart that I just made clean before the Lord. This is frustrating to me sometimes if I'm honest with you. 'Cause I think you guys really love God. And I think you really, like, want to do the right thing. But there is no way, look in my eyes and hear this, there's no way you're going to be able to maintain it if you're going to allow negative people, negative music, negative movies. I mean, honestly, we're polluting our souls and wondering, "Why is all this coming out"? Jesus explained it, "For out of the overflow of your heart, that's what your mouth is speaking". And so, watch what he says, "The good man brings good things out because he stored good things in".
By the way, hats off for you being here today. You're storing in some good thoughts and some good encouragement today. But you also have to be careful, the evil man brings out the evil things 'cause they allowed evil to get stored up inside of there. And I'm just asking you, you don't need me to be your Holy Spirit. What in your life is just storing up evil, and then you're wondering why all this negative's coming out? Are you all hearing me, everybody? Proverbs says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life". It is the wellspring of life, everything flows from it. And then we can do this last thing that I just thought, when I was preparing this, I could almost see you guys walking out of here as agents of God to bring life into a world full of death.
And go out there and just make a decision I'm going to be one of those people called a Christian who speaks blessings, words of life over people. I mean, I dreamed that you'd go to a school or work tomorrow, and they'd go, "Wow, my God, what happened to you? My Lord". Went to church, that's what happened to me. And I decided to wake up today, instead of cutting people down and tearing people down, to speak words of life over people. And I tell you, if we'll all do it as believers, we can change our world if we'll leave this place realizing this is our call in life. Y'all believe that? Come on, put your hands together if you really believe it, it's true.
So, let me close, let me close. I want to give you five words you can speak. If you're a notetaker, you'll love this. And that is speak words of affection. And what I mean specifically, don't be afraid to tell somebody, "Bro, I love you, I'm praying for you. I love you". I've noticed some people just can't say it. I actually discipled a guy, he was a guy who wanted to plant a church, and so he asked to come on staff for a season. And then I was going to... but always to go and be planted. We've done that many, many times. And you know, so I'm discipling, I'm encouraging. But I don't have a problem telling somebody, "Bro, I love you, man, love you. Give me, come on, give me a hug, I love you".
But I was, it took me a while to notice it, but I noticed that he could never say, "I love you," back. So I was like, "I love you," he goes, "Well, thank you". Like I said, "Wait a minute. You can't say that, can you"? And then he told me the story. And it was a family story that kind of polluted his heart, and he'd put up this wall. He thought he was protecting, he was actually keeping the best things in from getting in. And so I said, "You're not leaving here, I will not release you and I will not support your church plant until you can say, 'I love you,' back". It took him two years. And finally he's like, "I love you, love you". It was just, I mean, meant it. And for some of you guys, you needed to hear that. You've underestimated how much your spouse just needs to hear, "I love you. I love you". Your children, "I love you".
You know that the Father, God the Father said that over his Son Jesus? We only have the words of God the Father to the Son Jesus twice in Scripture. They talked every day. Unfortunately, we only have two of the conversations. One was at the baptism, one was at the Mount of Transfiguration. Watch this, and they're both the same, same words. I've concluded because that's what the Father said to his Son every day. I'll show it to you, here's the baptism story. This is the baptism, okay. There was a voice that came from heaven, said, "You're my Son. I love you and I'm very proud of you. You're my Son. I love you".
I got my son, my oldest son right here on the front row. You're my son, and I love you so much, and I am so proud of you. You're my church family. I love you, you're my church family. And that doesn't hurt nobody's feelings. We need to get back to this. There's enough of commenting on social media posts and Facebook and wah wah. We call it in Louisiana, we call it yah yah, just a bunch of stuff that shouldn't have been said. The words of affection, how about this one? Words of praise. Now, I'm not talking about the kind of praise God gets, he alone is worthy of that. But I'm talking about, "Hey, great job. Hey, Troy campus, you pulled it off".
You know how much work goes into launching a brand new campus? Some of you have no idea. Some of these guys got up at 4 o'clock in the morning to unpack trailers. And great job, Troy dream. Yeah, just good job, way to go, way to go. It's a word aptly spoken. When you say the right thing, the Bible says it's like a silver bowl with gold apples in it. That's both beautiful and valuable. You're beautiful and you're valuable. Had my wife's birthday this past Friday. And I don't always do this, I can be somewhat of a romantic, but I have to be in the mood, you know what I'm saying? So anyway, but I woke up the romantic mood. And I get up, I get up real early. Tammy doesn't, let me just say that, okay? So, she can sleep like a cat. She loves to sleep, right? She loves to sleep.
And so, I always get my first cup of coffee, but she loves coming in after she spends time with the Lord to come in and bring me my second cup. And I already prepared this list of words for her. And they're just, she's truly the most beautiful person inside and out I've ever met. I don't know anybody like her. Caring, and wise, and kind, and godly, and gentle. I've never... you ready for this? Been married 34 years, I've never heard her once, once say something negative about anybody, not even one time. And so, I just told her that. And of course she... y'all, I don't have five kids 'cause I'm good looking.
Come on somebody, all right, all right. Words of encouragement. By the way, I'm trying to do this to you today, and I've seen some of you, I can see you sitting up in your chair a little taller. And some of you still aren't convinced. But I'm trying to instill courage in you that I know it's tough out there, but I've read the last chapter of the Bible, and we win, everybody. You're on the winning side, and I'm trying to put some courage on the inside of you. "Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only that which is helpful for building others up, that it might benefit the listener".
In other words, everything you say either builds somebody up or tears them down. Build people up. How about this one, words of healing. This one's new to my list because I buried a pastor friend this week who unfortunately took his life about two weeks ago. And I saw this broken family, and I watched how the right words spoken just lifted their little broken hearts. Preached a message about heaven to them in this service that we hosted on Monday. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.
And here's the last one, this one's probably my favorite, words of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I think we're talking too much about what we see instead of telling them who they can become. I think we ought to stop, everybody knows who they are. You don't need to remind them. Tell them who they could be. Tell them what you see that you're not seeing, but you can see it. Those are eyes. That's what I do to you every week, by the way. I never tell you who you are. If I told you who you were and who I am, you're a bunch of sinners, that's who you are, all right? You don't need to hear that.
We know what we all did this week. You need to hear that you can know God, and you can find freedom, and you can discover your purpose, and you can make a difference. And your life doesn't have to look like this, it can look like this. "Abraham", last verse, "is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were". I'm not going to speak over you who you are, I'm going to say who you can become. And we ought to do the same thing, words of faith.
Father, I'm praying that we'd not just pick up some tips on how to be better with our mouth, God, but we leave here inspired, changed, impacted by the power of your Word to go out as agents of blessing to a broken, curse filled world. And so, God, I just speak life over every believer, every person in this place, every person at all of our campuses. Thank you, Lord. Thank you. God, I pray, Lord, you'd give us wisdom to know the power of our tongues, and to make a difference this week with what we say.
Heads bowed, eyes closed, I'm going to invite our campus pastors to come join me on stage. Pastor Blake, you can join me here at Grants Mill. And if you'll just keep your heads bowed, your eyes closed just for a moment. Truly, the only way for your life to really change is to allow God to change it. And that really that comes from one word and that's the word "surrender". As long as you control who you are, you will struggle with guilt and shame and fear and intimidation. But the moment you really let go and allow God to change your life, accept Jesus as your Lord, allow Jesus to forgive you, he's already paid for it. All your sins, you just need to receive the forgiveness of your sins by making him the Lord of your life.
Some of you, if you're like me, you've been in church a long time and you say, "I already know God, but I've just walked away and I need to come back. I need to know him again. I feel empty on the inside. I feel my shame, I feel my guilt, but I'm ready to be free. I need Jesus". Maybe you've never made that decision before. We're not going to have you stand up, I'm not going to call you to the front of the room. I want to pray for you, but I think you need to make an act of faith. I think you need to step out and say, "That's me". Be bold with your life today. Acknowledge Jesus.
If that's you right there, I am in a moment going to ask you to lift your hands and say, "I want to be included in that prayer". So, make up your mind when you're ready for your life to change, you're ready for Jesus to be your Lord. At every one of our locations, even if you're watching online right now, you say, "That's me, I need Jesus," boldly lift your hand as high as you can right now all over this room. Yep, yep, yep, anybody else? Just lift it high, lift it up and leave it up. Just be bold with your life today, amen, amen, awesome. Pastor Blake, why don't you lead them in this prayer?
Blake: Yeah, that's amazing. We're so proud of you, those of you that have your hands lifted right now. And heads are still bowed, eye are still closed, but maybe you didn't raise your hand and you know in your heart this is your moment to take a step. I'm going to lead you in a simple prayer right there where you are, just say these words. You can whisper it, or you can say it out loud, or just in your heart, doesn't matter. Just say:
Jesus, today I'm giving my life to you. I'm not holding anything back. I surrender it all. I ask you to forgive me of my sin, to make me brand new, to give me a fresh start. I give you my past and I turn towards you today. Jesus, I believe that you gave your life for me, that you died, you were buried, and you rose again. And now, you're in my life. I give you complete control. Thank you for filling me with purpose. Thank you for giving me a new identity. And thank you for changing my life. (Can we just say that little phrase?) Thank you for changing my life. (And finish your prayer with this, say:) I'll never be the same from this moment forward, in Jesus's name I pray, amen.