Good News for Bad Times
Nothing is riskier than letting Jesus control our words, but nothing is more satisfying than speaking up for Him.
We are on part three of the series, Reset: Jesus Changes Everything, a four-week experience that promises to do just that . . . to help us reset whatever it is in our lives that is not functioning well. If you missed any parts of this series, you can catch up at yorkspringsumc.org.
To give you a brief recap, we began two weeks ago by asking Jesus to “reset our hearts,” because that’s where it all starts, changing our faith from within ourselves to faith in Jesus.
God created us in His own image. He purposed us to love Him. He established a covenant arrangement with us—really for us—just like He did for the Israelites—where God provides for us, protects us, gives satisfaction to our souls, a deep fulfillment that we could never manufacture on our own, all in exchange for one simple thing…..according to the covenant….simply, letting God be God in our lives. No catches.
All the fulfillment. All the satisfaction. All the contentment and joy and peace you can stand. All the provision—food and water and clothing….not to mention a captivating vision to devote ourselves to, a meaningful mission, and we have been given unique gifts and talents to use in this mission. And in exchange for all of it, all that is required is a wholehearted “yes.” Not a “maybe”, but a fullhearted “yes.”
Believe. Choose faith in Jesus. Draw near to Him. And then He will draw near to you. That’s it.
Then last week, we asked Jesus to “reset our minds,” renew our thinking through spending time in God’s Word. Everything we say and do starts with our thoughts. Remember the man in Mark 5 where Jesus throws his demons into the pigs? When evil or negative thoughts plague our minds like “a walking madhouse,” as the man was described, then mayhem and chaos fill our minds, our voices, and our lives.
Until we realize that Jesus is near, until we rush toward Jesus and bow down in worship, surrendering our self-made tendencies and plans, until we allow Him to reset our faith, we will continue to see war waged in our minds and feel like a walking madhouse.
So we change that by putting one thought in front of the other, and begin with spending time in God’s Word and putting that on our minds. And since we can only think one thought at a time, we can do as Paul instructed in 2 Corinthians 10 and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, and as he said in Philippians 4:8, think of whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy…like Jesus. Remember what the walking madman did upon realizing that Jesus was nearby? He ran and bowed in worship to Him. We to can put Jesus on our minds and watch how our lives change.
The resets we are looking at in this series are actually one-line prayers:
- Week 1: “Jesus, reset my heart.”—This is the resetting of our faith where all other resets begin.
- Week 2: “Jesus, reset my mind.”—reset my thoughts.
- Today, “Jesus, reset my voice.”—The resetting of our words, what we say, why we say it and more specifically, how often we take the opportunities to talk about God.
- Next week, “Jesus, reset my hands.”—The resetting of our work, the motivations for what we do.
Jesus, Reset My Voice
To “reset” is to restore something to its original design. To set something back to its original purpose, its original intent. So, what does it look like—or sound like in this case—for our voices, the words we choose to speak, to be reset for the glory of God? Take a listen to this.
VIDEO – You can tell a lot about a person by what they talk about. Think of all the things people talk about. Sports, movies, their jobs, family, fears, stress. The question here is what do you spend your time talking about?
What do you spend your time talking about? This stuff we’re talking about today is risky. This is why we need Jesus in the lead. May we never go where He has not led us, but equally true is this: Wherever He wants to lead us, may we always enthusiastically go.
Psalm 71: 15-16
“My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.”
“My mouth will tell of God’s righteous deeds,” the passage says, “of his saving acts all day long.”
OK, that is a great goal. But a big, audacious goal that would seem to be a challenge for even the holiest, most righteous people around. Think about it: All day long, each time you open your mouth to talk, what comes out is something God-honoring and nothing else.
Is that even possible? Is it even conceivable that each time you and I speak, we would not be talking about the weather, not about the new restaurant that just opened, not about our latest political views, but about God? About His Son, Jesus? About spiritual stuff happening in our midst?
Who does this? Who actually lives like this? Who talks like this?
You want the abbreviated answer? Not many. Not many people do this. Not many people live like this or talk like this. At least, that’s what the research shows.
A recent study reported by Scientific American revealed that in general, we spend at least 60% of our conversational time talking about one thing, and one thing only. (It’s not “Jesus.”) Anybody want to take a guess as to what that one thing we spend a full 60% of our time talking about is?
Sixty percent of our words: That’s a lot of self-disclosure.
What’s more, when that communication happens on social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever else—the number jumps to 80%. Wasn’t there a country song about this subject once? “I wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number-one, oh-me, oh-my”?
A little Toby Keith to start your day . . . you’re welcome.
Or to really date myself, how about Bette Midler’s line from the movie Beaches:
“But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
Okay. I’ll quit.
Back to the researchers. They wanted to know why we are so self-involved, and so they recruited nearly two hundred participants to submit to an fMRI test. The plan was pretty straightforward: The research team would hook up the volunteers to a machine, track their brain activity while they indulged in self-talk, and then use the results to hopefully explain why humankind is so totally self-absorbed.
Their grand plan worked. Big-time. As it turns out, two regions of the brain that had never before been associated with self-related thought or communication lit up like a Christmas tree during the experiment.
These two regions of the brain are typically associated with the feeling of pleasure.
Historically, those two regions of the brain only lit up when linked to stimulation such as the ingestion of really good food, sex, or cocaine use. Ummm?
(Adrian F. Ward, “The Neuroscience of Everybody’s Favorite Topic,” Scientific American, July 16, 2013, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-neuroscience-of-everybody-favorite-topic-themselves/)
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. Self-disclosure, revealing information about ourselves to another person, is absolutely critical to healthy relationships. No one wants to be friends with a robot who either never feels anything or never chooses to share how they feel. A healthy give-and-take relationship requires not just the taking of information, but the giving as well. Intimacy requires involvement.
But what I’m suggesting is that:
Because our society is so very proficient at self-centeredness, and because it feels so very good when we ourselves self-disclose, it’s going to take some serious effort if we ever hope to talk about anything else.
On one hand, we have: “My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long…I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.”
And on the other hand: “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
There’s a disconnect here, and I think you’d agree. But things don’t have to stay disconnected for long. I have some good news for you today, and that good news is this: The serious effort that is going to be required to get us from self-consumed to others-centered has already been made.In full. And you and I can reap the benefits of that investment here and now.
Because while it’s true that statistically not many people spend their all-day-every-day words proclaiming the goodness of God, the faithfulness of Jesus, and the rescue that is available to everyone, some do—specifically those who’ve had a reset of the heart, those who’ve had a reset of the mind.
See, those verses from Psalm 71 aren’t some stretch goal we need to strive to achieve; no, they are a guarantee of what happens for the reset soul. When your heart has been reoriented toward Jesus and your mind has been repositioned toward truth, what naturally follows is a reset voice, a voice that can’t help but talk about God.
Jesus, when talking with His disciples, said it this way:
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Nick Hall, who wrote the book called “Reset,” wrote of a time when he was traveling from one city to the next while on a very tiresome speaking tour, and as he boarded the plane, he asked the flight attendant if there happened to be any empty rows where he might park himself and get some sleep. She said for Nick to go ahead and take his ticketed seat, and that she’d have a look and get back to him in a few minutes.
In the meantime, a young man in an Army uniform sat down next to Nick—no more eighteen, maybe nineteen years old, fresh out of basic training. The two struck up a conversation, which is how Nick learned that the soldier’s stress level was pretty high. He was being deployed to the Middle East and was totally and understandably nervous about the experience.
Just then, the flight attendant reemerged to tell Nick she’d found an empty row for him if he cared to relocate. Nick stood, shook the soldier’s hand, and headed off to find his napping spot. But just moments after settling into his new seat and getting comfortable, he was prompted to go back to the row where he’d been and tell the soldier about Jesus.
Nick was tired, and more than a little annoyed that his rest would have to wait. But he couldn’t not go back. His heart had been reset to care about the things Jesus cares about, and more than anything else on the planet, Jesus cares about people.
So Nick’s mind had been reset to be fascinated by and fixated on truth. Not stress. Not anxiety. Not discouragement. Not fear. But truth. And he wanted the soldier to have a taste of truth too, and so despite how tired he was, despite the concerns over being seen as a Jesus freak, despite the attraction of a pillow and an actual empty row, he got up, headed back to where the soldier was seated, took his place in his original ticketed seat, and looking at the guy, said,
“Hey, man, I’m really sorry to bother you again. I know we’re both tired and that you were as eager to see me empty this row as I was eager to find an empty row myself. But I was really impacted by how stressed you said you are, and I wondered if you would mind if I prayed for you.”
The soldier gladly accepted Nick’s offer, and after that brief prayer, a conversation between the two men began that lasted the full ninety minutes of the flight and ended with the soldier asking Jesus to reset his heart, his faith, his life.
The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. When your heart is full of Jesus, Jesus will show up in your words.
The Link to Us Today
And so we see this powerful progression, that when we trust truth, which is what we looked at during week 1, and then we take in the truth, which was last week’s topic, we inevitably will start talking about the truth.
We will start talking less about subjects of the moment—food, weather, sports—and more about things of eternal consequence. We will start talking less about the hopeless situations we are facing, and more about the Hope-giver. Less about fads and what’s trending, and more about the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Less about our stress, and more about Him whose yoke is easy and burden is light.
The more we choose to press in to faith-in-Jesus (instead of faith-in-self), and the more we saturate our minds with Scripture, the more we will find ourselves doing this Psalm 71 thing:
“My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone” (verses 15–16).
Who does this?
Who lives like this?
Who talks like this?
We do. We can. You can, starting today.
The Rest of the Story
That story of Nick Hall and the soldier is a story about seeing an opportunity to speak truth and seizing that opportunity before it is gone. And you know who was really good at doing that, who was the original master at doing this?
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. The sweetest name we know.
Get into the habit of saying His name often: Jesus. Jesus. Jesus! Let it flow easily from your lips.
Yes, Jesus was a master at this. He wasn’t like a parent who does the “Do as I say, not as I do” thing. I always love hearing the mom at the grocery store screaming her head off at her child to “stop screaming!”
Really? Where do you think that precious soul is picking up the behavior, Mom?
Jesus wasn’t like that at all. What He said we should do, He did. What He said we should say, He said himself. He said we should:
Did He himself speak all these things? Absolutely, He did.
To Nicodemus, he spoke truth. “You must be born again,” he said. John 3:1–21
To the inquisitive lawyer in Mark 12, he spoke love. “The most important thing? It’s love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength….Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:28–31
To Lazarus, he spoke restoration. “Come forth!” he demanded the once-dead man. John 11:43
To the man with the withered hand, he spoke healing. Mark 3:1–6
To the wind and the waves, he spoke peace. “Be still!” Mark 4:39.
To his disciples, he spoke rest. “Do not let your hearts be troubled!” John 14:1–3
To us all, he speaks hope. “I will come for you. Take heart, I will come again.” John 14:3
On and on the list could go, example after example of Jesus speaking truth and peace and hope and love. These messages were powerful back when Jesus spoke them. And does our world need to hear these messages still today? You’d better believe it.
And we get to speak them. What an honor!
Two quick takeaways.
- You who have allowed Jesus to reset your heart and mind, don’t be surprised when you are given opportunities to speak up for God. If you have surrendered yourself to the Lord Jesus, those opportunities are coming your way! Mark my words. They are coming your way.
Which leads me to the second takeaway:
- When those opportunities to speak up for God surface, don’t be shy about seizing them.
Don’t be surprised when you are given opportunities to speak up for God, and don’t be shy about seizing them!
Whether you are asked to speak up on a flight when you’re exhausted and in need of a nap, or in the hallway of your school, or at your family’s Christmas celebration, or during a backyard conversation with your neighbor, or in a restaurant, or at your local grocery store, seize every opportunity to point people to Life and Hope.
Our days are short. Ephesians 5 reminds us of that.
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Later in that same passage, it says this:
18 Be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
And don’t worry about the right words to say for Matthew 10:19 says, “God will give you the right words at the right time.”
A few years back, the band ‘A Great Big World’ released a song that was an unexpected hit. Later, it was recorded as a duet with Christina Aguilera. The song is called “Say Something” and it netted them instant fame, a Grammy award, and a whirlwind tour that included appearances on pretty much every morning show and late-night show on the air. I’m not sure of the band’s spiritual beliefs, or whether they intended to use it in the way that I’m going to use it today, but the song reflects on a very spiritual truth.
The song reflects on what could be one of a million defining moments in a relationship, when the stakes are sky-high, expectations are high, tensions are high…..and one person in the relationship shuts down and the other is begging for them to say something. VIDEO
The song is saying, you say you care about me, and yet now, when everything is on the line, you say…..nothing? Say something! Anything at all, to let me know that I matter to you.
Say something forgiving, caring, encouraging, loving. Just say something. Please?
God has placed people in our spheres of influence for a reason, and that reason centers on sharing His good news. His grace. His love. His peace. His joy. I wonder who in your family, in your circle of friends, in your workplace, in your school, in your neighborhood, might need a word of encouragement today. A word of care. A word of hope.
Who is begging you—even if silently—to say something to them today?
Can I encourage you to simply seize the opportunities you are given to say something worthwhile today and this week, as often as possible?
Let’s be known as people with wise words to say, God-honoring words, words that could change someone else’s life.
Call to Action and Prayer
Father, how we long to tell of your righteous deeds, your saving acts all day long. May we be known as a people who come and proclaim your mighty acts, who talk about you far more than we talk about ourselves, and who seize every opportunity to pass along the grace, the joy, the love, and the hope that we ourselves have found. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Now, if you know that you’re in need of a reset voice, if you long for your words to carry wisdom and power, to mean something—both now and for eternity—then here is what I want you to do: When we sing the last song, come forward to give that need to Jesus by writing it on a sticky note and posting it on the cross as a sign of giving it to Jesus, as a sign of allowing Jesus in to reset your voice.
And as we have talked about, every other reset flows from a reset heart. So if you are ready to surrender your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, so that your heart, mind and voice can be reset, then come post that or whatever it is in your life that is not functioning well to the cross, and receive a fresh start today.
Don’t leave here today without taking this critical first step. Every other reset you crave flows from first allowing a reset of your heart.