Think Before You Speak

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Cheung was upset with his wife for failing to check the directions to the famous restaurant where they hoped to dine. The family had planned to round out their holiday in Japan with a scrumptious meal before catching the flight home. Now they were running late and would have to miss that meal. Frustrated, Cheung criticized his wife for her poor planning.

Later Cheung regretted his words. He had been too harsh, plus he realized that he could have checked the directions himself and he had failed to thank his wife for the other seven days of great planning.

Jesus, give us the words to say and the wisdom to know when to keep silent.

Many of us may identify with Cheung. We are tempted to blow up when angry and to let words fly without control. Oh, how we need to pray as the psalmist did: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).

But how can we do that? Here’s a helpful tip: Think before you speak. Are your words good and helpful, gracious and kind? (See Eph. 4:29–32.)

Setting a guard over our mouth requires that we keep our mouth shut when we’re irritated and that we seek the Lord’s help to say the right words with the right tone or, perhaps, not speak at all. When it comes to controlling our speech, it’s a lifelong work. Thankfully, God is working in us, giving us “the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Phil. 2:13 nlt).

Dear Lord, help us always to think before speaking. Give us the words to say and the wisdom to know when to keep silent.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

By Poh Fang Chia 


Scripture has a great deal to say about the power of our words. One of the most familiar New Testament passages is James 3:1–12. According to James, keeping control of our tongue is one of the hardest things we can do. However, before we lose hope in being able to speak good words to one another, consider David’s words in Psalm 141.

Here, tucked in the middle of his other requests, David asks the Lord to set a guard over his mouth (v. 3). He desires to live a life that contrasts with the evildoers around him (v. 5). Spirit-controlled and God-honoring speech is one thing that separates the righteous from evildoers, and it is God who helps us control our speech.

J.R. Hudberg

Loved but Lost

John 3:16-19

Through faith in Jesus, we move from our lost condition to adoption into God’s family. Unless we trust in Christ, we face permanent alienation from the heavenly Father. On judgment day, each person’s eternal destiny will be determined, based on that individual’s spiritual state. Members of God’s family will live in heaven with Him. But those who remain blind to divine truth, which is found only in Jesus, will be sent away to live in eternal torment (Revelation 20:12-15).

Many people struggle to reconcile this teaching with the concept of a loving God. They reason that love would not condemn anyone to torment. The truth is, the Father desires reconciliation with man—not separation. His love for us motivated Him to provide all we need to receive forgiveness and thereby be reconciled to Him. It is man’s choice to refuse or accept God’s provision of Jesus as the remedy to the sin problem. An unsaved person can’t blame God for his eternal state; his suffering will be due to his own rebellion against the Lord.

A second common objection says, “Love would accept people on the basis of their moral lives and good deeds.” This argument assumes that God ignores sin and bases His decision about heaven on behavior. But since He is holy and just, He won’t allow sin to go unpunished. Because of His great love, however, He provided a way for our sin debt to be paid—through Jesus’ atoning death.

God shows no favoritism. He extends love toward the whole lost world and invites everyone to come to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

For Us

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“Christian” liberals for many generations have scoffed at the biblical doctrine that the death of Christ could serve as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. Like all other religions, their form of religion assumes that each person is responsible for his own salvation, which must somehow be earned by his own good deeds and religious observances. Some have a very rigid code of ethics, some talk of mental attitudes that ascend to higher planes through meditation, some emphasize only love, others simply feel that the good must somehow outweigh the bad. All rely on human abilities to gain salvation.

Nevertheless, the Bible clearly teaches that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and, as our text emphasizes, “Christ died for us.” This pungent phrase, “for us,” appears repeatedly in the New Testament. Listen to this refrain:

“[God] spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). “Christ also suffered for us” (1 Peter 2:21).

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). Hereby we perceive His great love for us! He was delivered up for us, sacrificed for us, made a curse for us; He gave Himself for us, suffered for us, and laid down His life for us. We were helpless, lost in sin, altogether unable to pay for our sins, but “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3), and we are saved! HMM

The Lord Our God is a jealous God

1 Kings 13:1-30

1 Kings 13:30

This is a very solemn illustration of the great truth that the Lord our God is a jealous God. He will be obeyed by those whom he honours to become his servants. He has expressly said, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me.” To trifle with his commands in the smallest degree may involve even the best of men in solemn chastisement. The old prophet at Bethel must have backslidden very far from God, or he would not have tempted the man of God so wickedly; the man of God ought not, however, to have believed him so readily, seeing that his declaration contradicted the express command of the Lord, which he had personally received. The Lord saw fit to slay him, but let us hope that as a righteous man he had hope in his death. Let us hope also that the death of the prophet from Judah became a warning to the old prophet at Bethel, and was the means of restoring him to his right state before God. It may have been one of those terrible things in righteousness whereby the Lord calls back his wanderers. Its lesson to us is to walk before God with holy jealousy and fear to offend.


His Grace, Mercy, and Peace

1 Timothy 1:2

If you’ve ever felt like problems were mounting and growing all around you and you didn’t have enough strength to make it another step, then I have some very good news for you! Today you’re going to discover that God extends a very special measure of mercy to people who feel like they are being swamped by the affairs of life. Stay with me, because what you’re about to read is exactly what you need to start your day!

In all of the apostle Paul’s epistles, he begins by greeting his readers with “grace” and “peace.” The exact wording from letter to letter may vary, but each of these epistles begin with some variation of a greeting that involves the words “grace” and “peace.” (See Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; and Philemon 1:3).

Why did Paul so often use these two words in his greetings when he wrote his epistles? The answer is very simple. Because he was an apostle to the Gentiles or the Greek-speaking world, it was necessary for him to greet his foremost readers in a customary Greek manner. During New Testament times, the salutation of “grace” was the customary greeting exchanged between Greeks when they approached each other. Just as we would say, “Hello, how are you doing?” as a polite way of greeting someone we meet, the Greeks would say, “Grace!” when greeting one another.

This word “grace” is the Greek word charis, which means grace but also carries the idea of favor. So when a person greeted someone with this salutation, it was the equivalent of his saying, “I greet you with grace and favor.”

But Paul wasn’t only addressing the Greek world. As a Jew himself, he also wanted to greet the Jewish world that would be reading his epistles. When the Jews met each other, their customary way of greeting one another was to say, “Shalom!” In fact, this is still the customary greeting exchanged between Jews in Israel today. The Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word shalom is the word eirene, which is the word for peace.

By using both of these two greetings at the beginning of his epistles, Paul brilliantly reached out and embraced both the Greek and the Jewish world at the outset of his writings. One scholar has said that by using both the terms “grace” and “peace,” the doors were thrown open for the whole world to read his letters. It is obvious that Paul deliberately addressed those letters to both the Gentile and Jewish world.


Because of the meaning of the words charis and eirene and how these words were used as a form of greeting, it is as though Paul was saying:

“To those of you who are Greeks, I greet you with grace and favor, and to those of you who are Jews, I greet you with peace and shalom.”

When Paul wrote the books of First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus, he inserted the word “mercy” between the words “grace” and “peace” in his greeting, making the salutation read “grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father.” In all three of these epistles, he was not writing to an entire congregation; rather, these letters were private letters intended to be read only by Timothy and Titus.

Why did Paul alter his traditional greeting to include the word “mercy” when he wrote these personal letters? Well, in all three of these letters, Paul was writing to someone in the ministry who felt overwhelmed by the affairs of life. For instance, when he wrote his first letter to Timothy (the book of First Timothy), Timothy was feeling overwhelmed by the phenomenal growth in the church under his care. Such growth is every pastor’s dream; however, Timothy was young, and he was pastoring what had become the world’s largest church. This was therefore a very challenging time in Timothy’s life.

Timothy was feeling so challenged that he apparently wrote a letter to Paul, asking him for advice on how to choose leaders for his fast-growing congregation. As the young minister faced this daunting task, he needed to be reminded that there was special “mercy” available to help him in his time of need. Thus, when Paul wrote to Timothy, he inserted the word “mercy” between the traditional greeting of “grace” and “peace.” He said, “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace…” (1 Timothy 1:2).

Several years after Paul wrote that first letter to Timothy, the political environment in the Roman Empire radically changed and public opinion turned violently against believers. Just as the Church had grown quickly before this change occurred, it now began to quickly diminish as believers were captured, imprisoned, enslaved, and killed. Many believers also defected from the Christian faith and went back to their old pagan temples in order to comply with the wishes of the government and to save themselves from death.

The tragedy occurring inside Timothy’s church was devastating. The size of his prized congregation was declining daily right before his eyes. His heart was broken as he watched leaders defecting and going back to their old ways in order to escape death—trusted team members who Timothy had thought would be faithful to the very end.

Apparently Timothy had written a letter to Paul, expressing his fears and hurts about the crisis he faced, so Paul wrote him back. That second letter to Timothy (the book of Second Timothy) is Paul’s response to Timothy and to the predicament that surrounded the younger minister on every side. Writing Timothy to encourage him to be strong in the Lord, Paul began his second letter by once more inserting the word “mercy” between the words “grace” and peace.” He said, “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace…” (2 Timothy 1:2).

The third time Paul inserted the word “mercy” between his traditional greetings of “grace” and “peace” was in his letter to Titus. As with Timothy, Titus found himself in a very difficult circumstance. After Paul started the church on the island of Crete, he left before the church was completely established and before leaders were firmly set in place. Paul left Titus to finish the job he didn’t complete in Crete, instructing him to make the final selection of church leaders and then to establish them in their positions.

The people who lived on Crete at that time were famous for being lazy gluttons and liars. They were a devious, mischievous people who were very difficult to trust. Even more, Crete was known to be a repository for criminals and barbaric-like people. Paul wrote to Titus and told him, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting…” (Titus 1:5). This would have been a monstrous task for even the most seasoned leader, and it loomed before Titus as a huge and daunting assignment.

The circumstances Titus faced were so immense that when Paul wrote to him, he said, “To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace…” (Titus 1:4). It wasn’t enough for Titus to hear about grace and peace—he also needed to be reminded that there was special mercy available to help him in his situation.

In all three of these cases, the readers were facing serious situations and needed to be reminded that God’s mercy was extended to help them bravely face and overcome their challenges.

You may need to be reminded of the same thing today. If you are facing a situation that would normally be devastating or overwhelming to you, grab hold of this good news: God has made a special measure of His “mercy” available to you! Don’t try to face the ordeal in your own strength until you end up feeling swamped and overwhelmed; instead, realize that God’s mercy is available to meet you right where you are. If you’ll open your heart to receive from God, He will tuck a special measure of mercy between the grace and peace He is offering you today. So why don’t you allow God’s mercy to assist you with the challenges you are facing at this very moment?


Lord, I thank You for making special mercy available to help me in times of struggle and hardship. I admit that I often try to handle all my challenges on my own, but I know it is impossible for me to overcome my obstacles without the help of Your mercy. So today I am opening my heart and asking You to extend a special measure of mercy to assist me through this challenging time in my life. I thank You in advance for pouring this mercy upon me, and by faith, I receive it right now.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that God’s mercy is working in me! God promises mercy to me, and I receive it by faith. That mercy empowers me to overcome my negative emotions, my struggles, and all the obstacles the devil has tried to set before me. Because God’s mercy is working in me, I am well able to rise above the struggles I face and to overcome them victoriously!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Can you think of a time when you were suddenly invigorated by a supernatural flow of divine mercy that surged into you and gave you the strength and courage you needed to face and overcome a difficult situation?
  2. When you became aware of that special mercy, how did it affect both your attitude and the situation you were facing?
  3. If you are specially challenged by a situation in your life right now, why not take a few minutes today to ask God to give you a special measure of mercy to help?

God has made a special measure of His mercy available to you!


Can We Really Trust God?

Back in my mid-20’s I made the decision to take God literally. That is, to live Biblically and trust Him to meet my needs. Clearly, He had asked me to give full time to winning and discipling men. Shortly after responding to His “calling,” I was severely tested by the Enemy. Amidst the spiritual struggle, I got down on my knees and held my Bible in the air to God, claiming Matthew 6:25, 33:


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


Following are four measurable illustrations of how God specifically honored His Word over these many years:


1. In 1963 when Ruth and I met and fell in love, I was in an intensive Christian training program, living on a few dollars a week. After a number of months of secret letter-writing, (she had moved from Colorado to California) it became apparent that I should go and visit her. I asked God for the necessary funds to make the trip and determined to tell no one of my need. In the following weeks, inexplicably people began putting money into my mail box, under my pillow, etc. When I made the trip, the necessary funds were at hand.


2. In 1970 Ruth and I returned from overseas missionary work, and needed funds to purchase a house to begin a ministry among university students. We had not mentioned our needs to anyone. One morning in my devotions I felt God laid a verse on my heart from Psalm 107, assuring me the necessary funds would be forthcoming. Later that morning when I opened my mail, there was a check for several thousand dollars which covered the down payment on the purchase of a house.


3. In 1973 while preparing my income tax I found a misplaced stock certificate. When I mentioned it to Ruth, she informed me that the couple next door were filing for bankruptcy in two days. So we went over to their house and signed over the stock certificate to them. When we specified the stock’s value, the wife let out a scream and broke into tears. The amount was exactly what her Christian mother two days earlier had asked God to provide them. Within days both the husband and wife received Christ.


4. When our children were studying at the university, unexpectedly I incurred a whopping tax bill. Shortly thereafter, I paid a visit on my 90 year old uncle. Without explanation, he handed me six envelopes totaling the amount of the tax bill. We had not discussed our need with anyone except the Lord.


Can God be trusted? Can He be taken literally? From my 50 years of walking with Him, my answer is a resounding and unequivocal “Yes!”



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