The Blessing, Part 3

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FAMILY DEVOTIONS - we continue our study of "The Blessing" by looking at the second element, spoken words.

 

MONDAY, April 29

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

The second element of the Blessing is Spoken Words.  Do you remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?  We all know it’s an absolute lie.  Words have the power to heal or destroy.  In the words of a contemporary Christian song, “They've made me feel like a prisoner; they've made me feel set free. They've made me feel like a criminal, made me feel like a king.  They've lifted my heart to places I'd never been, and they've dragged me down back to where I began.” (By Hawk Nelson).  It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that a blessing has to be a spoken blessing.  We can’t assume that those we love know that we love them, especially our children.  Throughout Scripture we see the importance of God speaking to his people.  He spoke creation into being.  He spoke the blessing promise to Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob.  When it came time to communicate his love and mercy with us, He sent His Son, Jesus – the Word in flesh – to speak it directly to us.  We know that we are God’s beloved, forgiven children because those words have been spoken to us from God’s Word.  In the same way, we must share the blessing with others by speaking words of blessing to them regularly, instead of assuming that our actions are speaking for us.  If you don’t know where to start, simply begin by sincerely saying, “I love you” or “You mean so much to me” to those you love.

God, you spoke Your word to us through Jesus Christ, the Word in flesh.  Help us to communicate words of blessing to those we love as well.


TUESDAY, April 30

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:3-6

There once was a kid nicknamed “Mean Mike.” Mike earned this name as a toddler because of his strong grip, which he used to hold on fiercely to whatever object he didn’t want to give up.  The nickname started out humorous, but as Mike grew up, he also began to live up to his nickname, becoming a bully at school and never allowing anyone to get too close – he had to be tough.  Mike ended up in prison.  He heard that he was “mean” enough that he began living up to his nickname.  The reality is that we tend to live up to the expectations set for us, whether positive or negative.  If your words aren’t offering a blessing of acceptance, value, and worth, then they are a curse of condemnation and devaluing.  As James says in his letter, “the tongue is a flame of fire.” We must be careful what words we speak to our children, our spouses, and those under our influence.  As we bless and uplift them, speaking love and value into their lives, we help them to be emotionally healthy human beings who are sure that they matter – and we all matter, for we were all created by the Father.

Pray that God’s Spirit in you would help you guard your tongue from hurtful words and instead offer words that bring life and healing to others.


WEDNESDAY, May 1

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

There is a thief loose in our midst; we know the true thief is Satan, the liar and one who opposes all that is good.  But Satan is crafty.  He masquerades himself to lead us astray.  When it comes to the blessing, he’s a thief “who masquerades as ‘fulfillment,’ ‘accomplishment,’ and ‘success.’”  This thief is more formidable – and more common, than the temptation to speak negative words, like Mike’s story.  “This thief steals from our children the precious gift of genuine acceptance and leaves confusion and emptiness in its place.  That villain’s name is over-activity, and it can keep parents so busy that the blessing is never spoken.  Even with parents who dearly love their children, as one woman we talked to said, ‘Who has time to stop and tell them?’  In many homes today, both parents are working overtime, and a “Family Night” makes an appearance about as often as Halley’s comet.  The result is that instead of Dad and Mom taking the time to communicate a spoken blessing, a babysitting name silence is left to mold a child’s self-perception.  Life is so hectic that for many parents, that ‘just right’ time to communicate a spoken blessing never quite comes around.”  Without those spoken words, it can push kids to two different places, which we will look at tomorrow.  Christ came that we would have full life, and part of that fullness comes from speaking our love to the people He has placed in our lives.  Don’t let business become a substitute for the blessing, especially in the lives of your children.

Pray for parents, that they would be wise in how they choose to use their time with their family, and that they would frequently communicate the blessing to their children.

 

THURSDAY, May 2

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you.  Proverbs 3:27-28

Perhaps you feel that you don’t need to communicate the blessing for the same reason as the man who said, “I told my wife I loved her on our wedding day, and it stands until I revoke it!” Perhaps it seems obvious that their marriage would be struggling!  Marriages struggle when the blessing is lacking, but children especially suffer from its absence.  They usually travel 1 of 2 extreme roads.  The first is the road to workaholism, where the theme is, “Try a little harder, maybe that will earn you the blessing.”  This mentality might happen because the only time a child hears a blessing from his busy, disengaged parents is when he achieves something big – and therefore, in order to hear that blessing, he pushes himself to “show them I’m somebody.” This can last well into adulthood.  The second road is withdrawal and depression.  “Convinced they can do nothing to hear words of love and acceptance, they give up and travel down the road of apathy, depression, and withdrawal.”  A Cipher in the Snow tells the story of a boy who stops the bus on the way to school one morning, gets off, goes out into the snow, and dies.  His home life had disintegrated to a state where he no longer mattered, and he slowly retreated into a world of silence, unnoticed and unloved.  Finally, this lack of love and acceptance caused his death.  We have the power of giving good, as the Proverb for today says.  Don’t delay in verbally expressing your love to others, especially the children in your life.

Jesus, open my eyes to see the needs of others and my mouth to speak words of love in Your name.

 

FRIDAY, May 3

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Every family has certain rules that determine “the way our family does things.”  Many are unspoken and unwritten.  For example, some families have a rule that ‘“people who know anything about anything’ open Christmas present on Christmas morning.”  Other families determine that civilized people obviously open them on Christmas Eve.  Rules like this are harmless.  Many family rules can be helpful, such as biblical rules like “not letting the sun go down on our anger” or “being kind, one to another.”  Family rules like these can be safely passed from one generation to the next.  Other family rules are destructive.  Take Cherryl’s family, for example, where the family rule was “stand up,” coming from the phrase, “Don’t take anything off anyone.  Stand up and fight.”  In her family, saying “I’m sorry,” or “I love you,” or any words not useful in a fight, were absent from their home.  It helped her father succeed in business, but destroyed their family relationships, since in every argument, no one refused to give an inch.  Cherryl became a Christian and began to break the family rules, boldly saying in the middle of a fight, “I’m sorry; you’re right.  Would you forgive me?” She told her parents she loved them and gave them a hug on her way to school.  In doing so, she gave her parents the blessing they never received from their own parents, and the family atmosphere began to change as one by one, her family noticed her example and became Christians as well.  Family rules can be a blessing, but if they are not grounded on God’s Word and are designed to uplift and bless, they curse instead.  Let your family rules be filled with the love of God.

Pray for wisdom to evaluate the “rules” of your family and create ones that bless and bring value.

 

SATURDAY, May 4 

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

It can be hard to speak words of blessing.  It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and sometimes parents have concerns, such as these from people Gary Smalley and John Trent have counseled: “I don’t want to inflate my child’s ego.”  “I’m afraid if I praise them, they’ll take advantage of me and won’t finish their work.”  “Communication is too much like work.  I work all day, then she expect me to work all night talking to her.”  “I just don’t know what to say.”  It is important to know that speaking a blessing doesn’t mean simply talking more to your spouse, children, or others.  But we must learn to “speak up rather than clam up.”  Next week we explore the 3rd element of the Blessing, which teaches to share spoken words that express high value.  Clearly, each one of us can either curse others either with our silence or our false assumption that our actions will communicate the blessing for us, or we can bless others by consciously, carefully, and regularly speaking words of love to others – “I love you.”  “I’m proud of you.”  “You mean so much to me.”  “I’m glad God placed you in my life.”  “You a such a blessing to me.”  “You are a joy to be with.”  Combine that with what we learned last week about regularly giving meaningful touch to others with hugs, kisses, kind touches on the shoulder, etc., and you are well on your way to communicating the Blessing in the lives of those you love.

Pray for the parents of our confirmand families, who have the opportunity to speak a blessing to their children tomorrow: Blake Harwell, Lauren Lands, Amber Wendt, Levi Carmody, Kyle Wesche, Madison VanScoder, Kayla Beaverson, and Morgan Miller.

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