Words are powerful. With our words we can speak life or death. With our speech we can put people in bondage or set them free. With the words we think or say we can bring healing or torment. James talks about the tongue being a rudder that steers the whole ship, or a bit in the horse’s mouth.
James 3:2 – 12 (Amplified Bible)
“For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. If we set bits in the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about. Likewise, look at the ships: though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines. Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze! And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna). For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius (nature). But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness! Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so. Does a fountain send forth [simultaneously] from the same opening fresh water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.”
We can take a look at one of the parable’s of Jesus to see how much power words really have. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, there are three characters. Each one speaks words and acts upon them.
Luke 15:11 – 32 (Amplified Bible)
“And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want. So he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs. And he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]. Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently]. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat-]fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to revel and feast and make merry. But his older son was in the field; and as he returned and came near the house, he heard music and dancing. And having called one of the servant [boys] to him, he began to ask what this meant. And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed that [wheat-]fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and well. But [the elder brother] was angry [with deep-seated wrath] and resolved not to go in. Then his father came out and began to plead with him, But he answered his father, Look! These many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me [so much as] a [little] kid, that I might revel and feast and be happy and make merry with my friends; But when this son of yours arrived, who has devoured your estate with immoral women, you have killed for him that [wheat-] fattened calf! And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to make merry, to revel and feast and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!”
This is the story of The Prodigal Son. Prodigal in the dictionary means, “Wastefully, or recklessly extravagant, giving or yielding profusely; lavish, lavishly abundant, profuse, a person who spends, or has spent his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance.”
We act upon what we say:
1. Younger son spoke – Younger son dwelt on what was going to be his “someday.” He asked his father:
“… give me the part of the property that falls [to me].”( Luke 15:12)
The younger son had been thinking about this for some time and planned on asking his father for what was rightfully his… but this only comes when the father has passed away.
Action of his words:
“And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.” (Luke 15:13)
He wanted to go out and live his own life the way he wanted to live it. His actions reflected what he was thinking and again he acted upon it. He spent his money recklessly extravagantly. This is being a prodigal.
2. He came to himself
He spoke words to himself again:
“How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19 Amp)
Action of his words:
“So he got up and came to his own father.” (Luke 15:20 Amp)
He acted on his words and left for home. But this time he had “come to himself.”
We Come To Ourself
We come to our self when we realize we can’t make it on our own. We come to our self when we see that all our choices have made big mistakes in our life. We come to our self when we give up control and give it back to our Heavenly Father. We come to our self when we go to the Father and ask Him to forgive us of our wrong we have done.
We all need to “come to ourselves” from time to time. If we don’t we will lead ourselves astray. We will “self-destruct” without God! We, as sinners, are slow to come to our self and go back to God, but God is quick to run to us as He sees our brokenness and repentive heart.
3. The Father saw his son from a far off and ran to him.
The Father always was waiting and looking for the son to come home. He longed for him to be home. For the father to see him from a far off you know he was constantly thinking about the way-word son and looking for his return.
God always has His eye on us, waiting for us to move towards Him! You might feel far away from God tonight. You have distance yourself from Him for some reason and God has his eye on you, waiting for you to draw near.
I want to talk about my own father right now. As a little girl growing up without a father figure in my life I suffered from many issues. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of the future. Fear of what people thought of me. At the time I didn’t know or even understand how I was feeling. But I always felt there was something wrong with me and I somehow didn’t measure up to others. Perfectionist was my middle name. It was my goal to do everything perfect so people would like me. If I came across someone who disapproved of what I was doing I would be crushed and I tried every way possible to get their approval.
As I was growing up, all the men that were in my life were either absent, abusive, or disapproving. I never had a healthy male figure to look up too.
“There must be something wrong with me or my Dad would have come to find me!” I would say to myself. So I would live my life expecting people to not approve of me. In many cases it proved itself true when I started leading worship at the age of 15 in my own youth group and people would tell me, “I should be a man.” or “You don’t sing the songs I like.” “You shouldn’t be leading with a guitar, and women shouldn’t be ministers.” I desperately wanted the approval of people, especially men.
As I mentioned earlier my mom and dad were divorced when I was two years old. Throughout the years, I had maybe four or five phone conversations with with my dad, and had seen him twice; once at his mother’s funeral and once at my sister’s wedding. The last time I talked with him was when my mom died in 1995. We really had no relationship with each other. In fact, I was angry with my dad for not making or keeping contact. We were told by our mom that dad had an affair. My mom planned, and succeeded, in leaving him without letting him know. She left so abruptly that all of our clothes and toys were left in California. Mom never really talked about what happened or why she felt he was having an affair. It was kind of a “taboo” subject. As far as I knew, dad never even tried to come after us.
My dad remarried and so did my mom. Life went on. I would find out little information about my dad through my uncle Bert Pence, my dad’s brother. Some of the things my dad went through were; a broken back (falling off a two story building), automobile accidents that left him with a metal pipe in his right upper leg, and several strokes that have effected his right side of his body.
The lady that my dad married passed away. I felt bad for the passing of his wife, but really didn’t care about what happened to him. One day in prayer, God brought my dad’s name to my mind. I hadn’t thought of him in a long time. I felt God was impressing on my heart to take care of my dad. I fought it. I thought, “Why should I take care of someone that didn’t take care of me?” But, I’ve learned not to fight with the Holy Spirit, and eventually I said I would take care of him. I called my dad on the phone, and he was shocked to hear from me. During the conversation I asked him if he wanted to come up to Spokane Washington and live with me. He said he was fine, and I left it at that. About a week and a half later, I received a phone call that he would like to move and be with me. Now, I was shocked! God asked me to do it, and I had to obey. An overwhelming love and compassion for my dad came over me. I hurried to find an apartment for him so it would be ready for him when he arrived in Washington State. I drove down to California by myself, in order to have room to pack all I could for him in my car. When I arrived at his apartment in California, I walked through the door and saw him lying on his couch. He was worse then I was told. He looked like an eighty-year-old man even though he was sixty-five. He couldn’t walk to me, so I ran to him and we embraced and cried. The last time I saw my dad, it was at my sister’s wedding, which was over 20 years before. He was strong and healthy then.
The car ride up from California was an eye opener for me. Dad didn’t know why mom left so quickly. I expressed what she told me, and immediately he denied it. At this point, I told him, “Dad, if you did or didn’t have an affair, I would’ve still come to get you.” He was a broken man. He cried. I think we both cried all the way back to Washington. He said he drove up to Spokane, right after mom left him, to find out what happened. He tried to talk to her, but she wouldn’t talk to him. So, he went back to California because that was where his job was. I think he felt rejected and thought he didn’t have a chance.
Dad would tell me stories of when my sister and I were little girls. I was all ears. He would take us to the store, let us take anything we wanted off the shelves, and he would buy it. When he came home from work, he eagerly waited to see us and would play with us. He couldn’t wait to spend time with us. He bought us pretty dresses and toys just because he loved us. He would tell me how cute I was when I was a baby and how I grew to be a beautiful woman. Constantly on our drive home he would tell me how pretty I was. Throughout my life I never thought I was pretty. Ron, my husband, would tell me this, but I didn’t believe him. Hearing it from my dad though, really effected me.
At one point, dad looked at me, as I was driving, and said, “You know, I saved your tricycle. It’s been in storage all these years.” I couldn’t believe it. Dad kept my tricycle for almost 40 years? That touched me deeply. After all these years, he still had my tricycle. “I was waiting for you to come home, and wanted you to have it when you did.” He said, “I never touched your room or the clothes in it. I left it just the way it was.”
Eventually, he moved away from the apartment we all stayed in, that is when he put it all in storage. He said all this with tears streaming down his face. I could see he meant it. I could see the tricycle was important to him.
After arriving in Washington State, Dad lived in his own apartment for a few months, but was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer shortly after settling into his new place. At the time his doctor gave him less then six months to live. We cherished the time we had together. We would see each other several times a week. Every time I saw him, he would say his heart jumps, and he could not believe we were together. We both felt like we were kept apart all these years, and couldn’t believe we were finally together.
Having my dad back in my life brought so much healing in me. I didn’t realize the void I had without my dad. I always felt like something was wrong with me and therefore people didn’t like me. I’m sure it stemmed from my thinking that dad didn’t come after us or want anything to do with my sister and I. The truth about my childhood has brought closure to unanswered questions. The question of my dad having an affair haunted me all my life. Did he really have an affair? If he did, did he want to be with that person more then being with his two daughters? How can a father not have contact with his children for so many years? I have to say that my failure, and the steps I went through after it (See “The Garbage Man Always Comes On Fridays“), brought a softening in my heart for my dad. If he did or didn’t have an affair, it didn’t matter. Everyone needs mercy and grace. That is why I went and brought him to Washington from California. He was a broken man, full of many regrets.
I wanted to know if Dad believed in God and if he asked Christ in his heart as Lord and Savior. During one of our drives to the Doctor, I asked him, “Dad, have you ever asked Christ in your heart as Lord and Savior? He promptly said, “Twice! One time I was even baptized in the river.” This brought peace in my heart to know he did have a relationship with the Lord at one point in his life, but I felt God brought him to be with me to help him turn his gaze back onto Him.
My Dad lived in his own apartment for three months. He was very disabled and could hardly take care of himself. I had to make a decision to move him into an adult family home. He was only there for a month and a half before he passed away. I was expecting him to live several more months. Our time together lasted only four months. I’m thankful we had it and a chance for closure. Much healing took place in both of us. Only God could have brought such a timely reunion.
Thinking about my earthly father, and how he felt about me, I can’t help but think about our heavenly Father and how he feels about us. Just like my dad, God always remembers us. When we turn away from Him, He constantly loves and waits for us to come back. My dad told me about the many times he tried to come up from California to visit me, but was stopped because of some unexpected challenge. A car accident, or needing to bail out a stepchild from jail. Dad said that he bought an old muscle car and was going to drive it up for me to have. He soon found out one of his step sons were in jail, so he sold the car to get him out. Hearing how my dad lived and the choices he made makes me thankful for my mom and how I was raised.
God constantly wants to be with us; so much so, He gave the life of His only Son so that we could spend eternity with Him.
If you have turned away from God, He still loves you. He is constantly longing for you to come back. If you feel like you can’t come back because of what you might have done, His arms are wide open, and will take you just the way you are. He loves you. He’s waiting for you. He kept your tricycle!
Back to the Prodigal Son…
“I do not know that the prodigal saw his father, but his father saw him. The eyes of mercy are quicker than the eyes of repentance. Even the eyes of our faith are dim compared with the eye of God’s love. He sees a sinner long before a sinner sees Him…. He was resolve to come, yet he was half afraid. But we read that his father ran. Slow are the steps of repentance, but swift are the feet of forgiveness. God can run where we scarcely limp, and if we are limping towards Him, He will run towards us. The father “saw” his son. There is a great deal in that word, “saw.” He saw who it was; saw where he had come from; saw the swineherd’s dress; saw the filth upon his hands and feet; saw his rags; saw his penitent look; saw what he had been; saw what he was; and saw what he would soon be. His father saw him.” God has a way of seeing men and women in a way you and I cannot understand. He sees right through us at a glance, as if we were made of glass; He sees all our past, present and future.”
C.H. Spurgeon (wrote in a sermon on the Prodigal Son)
The Father had prodigal love towards his son as he was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently]. (Luke 15:20)
Other translations read:
“… fell upon his neck and affectionately kissed him.” (New Testament In Modern English)
His father extravagantly kissed him and loved on him. He was waiting and anticipating his son to come home. I am sure the father always had his son on his mind. Any loving father would.
His father showed more extravagant love for his son as he said to bring the best robe (festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. This signifies kingship, authority, rule and reign. I am sure the son didn’t feel like he deserved it. He knew what he did and where he came from. His father gave him all that, and a fatten cow to eat, and celebrate the homecoming with his friends. We act upon what we say!
The father spoke:
“Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat-] fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:22 – 24 Amplified Bible)
When we stray it hurts the Father. The Father will mourn like someone is dead. He will ache in His heart until we come back like someone who has lost a precious jewel and longs to find it.
Action He took:
He lavished His love on the prodigal son and gave him even more than before!
The Father sees you! He knows where you have been. He knows what you have done. He knows what you have spoken, and He knows your name!
We don’t have to worry about the past. God has wiped it all away the moment we repent. We don’t have to worry about our future because God has prepared ahead of time what we will need. All we have to do is trust God with our lives and allow Him to be the Father.
Anger and jealously will make us act first…
4. The older son’s actions:
“But [the elder brother] was angry [with deep-seated wrath] and resolved not to go in.” (Luke 15:28 Amp)
In this case, he took action before he spoke to his father. But his “actions spoke louder than words,” as the father pleaded with him to join in the celebration.
The older son spoke:
“Look! These many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me [so much as] a [little] kid, that I might revel and feast and be happy and make merry with my friends; But when this son of yours arrived, who has devoured your estate with immoral women, you have killed for him that [wheat-] fattened calf!” (Luke 15:29-30 Amp)
The older son spoke with jealously and anger. He didn’t understand why his father would lavish so much love on his younger brother after all the WRONG that he did. It didn’t make sense to him. Mercy and grace never makes sense to someone who is not the receiver, only the one who receives.
When jealously and anger grips our hearts it paralyzes us. It makes us do things that are selfish. The older son was offended because all he could see is the “good” he had done and the “bad” his brother did.
Being critical or judgmental towards others is a sin. The older brother was just as guilty of wrong as the younger brother.
5. The father spoke:
“And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to make merry, to revel and feast and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:31-32 Amp)
This parable was spoken to the tax collectors and Scribes and Pharisees.
“Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2 Amp.)
The church is likened to that of the older son. Maybe you have been a child of God most of your life. Do you get critical towards sinners? Do you cast a judgmental eye towards those that have fallen or that keep falling? We can get judgmental towards the lost ones that come in as they may not talk like us or walk like us. We can think of them as “less then” because of their past. This is sin! God wants us to let go of the judgment and celebrate the change in people’s lives. We need to rejoice over one lost sinner that comes to Jesus and treat them with respect and love. Love will always receive; jealously and judgment always pushes away.
What have you been speaking to yourself lately? Are they words of hope or discouragement? What have you been speaking about people lately? Are they words of hope or judgment?
Maybe you can relate more with the Prodigal son. Do you feel like you can’t come back to God because of your past? Do you feel lost and all alone? Do you identify with the prodigal son? Do you identify with the older brother?
God sees everything. He knows your name! We can come to God and ask for forgiveness no matter what we have thought, spoke, or have done. No matter what actions you have taken with your words, God is there waiting for you to embrace Him.
There is power in our words. Let’s do the right thing with our actions and run to God and experience His exstravagant love He has waiting for you!
He has saved your tricycle!
From one tricycle rider to another,
Pastor Kris Belfils