A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Roger Dawson is known as “America’s Premier Business Negotiator.” He’s spent his life training business executives to negotiate good deals in tense settings. His advice: “Be careful what you say at the beginning. If the other person takes a position with which you totally disagree, don’t argue. Arguing always intensifies the other person’s desire to prove himself or herself right.”
Solomon said something similar nearly three thousand years ago. Never has society so needed this advice! Our world is filled with angry words between heads of state, between political leaders, between politicians, between newscasters and commentators. Our electronic media doesn’t help; it often amplifies the anger. If we aren’t careful, the world’s angry spirit can seep into our marriages, homes, and churches.
Proverbs 15:1 teaches us to underreact. If someone approaches you in an angry spirit, you gain the advantage over them by remaining calm. When you argue with someone, it makes them defensive and locks them into their position. That’s not a winning strategy.
It takes the Holy Spirit’s calmness within us, but we should take Proverbs 15:1 as our guide: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (NLT).
Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything. Billy Graham
The story of the Prodigal Son is probably the best known of Jesus’ parables. Perhaps we love it so much because we can each find ourselves in the narrative since we have all moved out of our Father’s will at one time or another.
The King James Bible says the prodigal son went away to a “far country.” When we reject God’s will, we also enter a “far country,” even if we never leave our hometown. Satan beckons with promises of new experiences and entertainment, whispering, “Come satisfy your curiosity—this is the way to really live.” But the reality of the “far country” doesn’t fulfill those empty promises. Sin distorts our thinking, causing us to lose our sense of what is right and good. We squander time, money, and relationships. God-given talents, ambitions, and opportunities are wasted on pointless pursuits as we pour days and dollars into things that bring only temporary satisfaction.
Outside of God’s will, it’s easy to make foolish decisions and end up in trouble. That could involve some physical or financial need. Or it might even be a wretched emotional state, in which we feel isolated, unloved, or rejected.
The ultimate end to such a journey is our personal “hog pen”—the place where we finally realize sin doesn’t pay. Having traveled so far to reach this new low, we may wonder if the Lord can ever love us again. The answer is yes. Our sin can never outdistance the reach of God’s grace. If we, like the prodigal son, will turn around, repent, and come home to our Father, we’ll receive His restoring forgiveness and be welcomed with rejoicing.
“This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.” (John 4:54)
Jesus had returned from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem and stopped in Cana to visit friends. The news of the Messiah’s return traveled 20 miles away to Capernaum, where a nobleman whose son was deathly sick with a terrible fever heard that Jesus was in the area (John 4:47).
As quickly as he could, the nobleman went to Cana and asked Jesus to come and heal his son. The Lord’s response was almost a sarcastic rebuke: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Rather than giving up or getting angry at Jesus’ apparent indifference, the nobleman begged him, “Sir, come down ere my child die” (John 4:49).
Often the Lord tests our commitment, and just as often does not respond the way we expect Him to. In this case, Jesus sends the nobleman back to his home (20 miles away) with the instruction: “Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way” (John 4:50). Jesus promised; the nobleman believed and left to return home.
When the nobleman’s servants met him with the news that his son’s fever had left him “yesterday at the seventh hour . . . So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house” (John 4:52-53).
How did Jesus do this? The Creator has authority over disease; distance is irrelevant. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . . . . For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6, 9). HMM III
But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
—1 Thessalonians 2:2
It is good for us to remember how strong [God] is—and how weak we are. I settled this issue a long time ago. I tell you I have talked to God more than I have talked to anyone else. I have reasoned more with God and had longer conferences with God than with anybody else.
And what did I tell Him? Among other things, I told Him, “Now, Lord, if I do the things I know I should do, and if I say what I know in my heart I should say, I will be in trouble with people and with groups—there is no other way!
“Not only will I be in trouble for taking my stand in faith and honesty, but I will certainly be in a situation where I will be seriously tempted of the devil!”
Then, after praying more and talking to the Lord, I have said, “Almighty Lord, I accept this with my eyes open! I know the facts and I know what may happen, but I accept it. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not crawl under a rug. I will dare to stand up and fight because I am on your side—and I know that when I am weak, then I am strong!” ITB146
Lord, I’m convicted by Tozer’s statement that he has “talked to God more than [he has] talked to anyone else.” Help me to talk with You more. Amen.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?—Psalm 27:1.
God is my strong salvation,
What foe have I to fear?
In darkness and temptation,
My light, my help, is near.
Though hosts encamp around me,
Firm to the fight I stand,
What terror can confound me
With God at my right hand?
All the spiritual enemies, all the enemies of a man’s own house, are to be destroyed by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, working by His grace in the heart. And when salvation is brought home to the heart, and wrought out there by the Lord, it is to be enjoyed and abode in, and the soul is not to return back again into captivity; but, being delivered out of the hands of its inward and spiritual enemies, is to serve God in the dominion of His Son’s life, in holiness and righteousness all its days here upon the earth.
Who does not know what it is to rise up from a fault—perceived, confessed, and forgiven—with an almost joyous sense of new energy, strength, and will to persevere?
H.L. Sidney Lear.
“And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace” Jer. 29:7
The principle involved in this text would suggest to all of us who are the Lord’s strangers and foreigners that we should be desirous to promote the peace and prosperity of the people among whom we dwell. Specially should our nation and our city be blest by our constant intercession. An earnest prayer for your country and other countries is well becoming in the mouth of every believer.
Eagerly let us pray for the great boon of peace, both at home and abroad. If strife should cause bloodshed in our streets, or if foreign battle should slay our brave soldiers, we should all bewail the calamity; let us therefore pray for peace, and diligently promote those principles by which the classes at home and the races abroad may be bound together in bonds of amity.
We ourselves are promised quiet in connection with the peace of the nation, and this most desirable; for thus we can bring up our families in the fear of the Lord, and also preach the gospel without let or hindrance. Today let us be much in prayer for our country, confessing national sins, and asking for national pardon and blessing, for Jesus’ sake.