Sticks & Stones - Pastor Tom Jones

Sermon Transcript

Again, good morning to you. My name is Tom. I'm one of the pastors on staff here at church. Pastor Chip is away with his wife for a nice little getaway. I don't know how many of you guys are new to the church, but about a year and a half ago, the last time Pastor Chip went out with his wife on a getaway, he and his brother-in-law rented a jet ski. Does anybody remember this story? He rented a jet ski and he was supposed to stay in a certain area. They swear that they didn't see the sign, but I don't buy it at all.

They went out of the area. The rental people thought they stole the jet skis. So, they call the police and then there was another resort area they weren't supposed to go into and they broke into that. So, the resort police were after them. And I'm just about to preach, right? This is a Saturday night. And I hear all this stuff that's going on in the Bahamas or wherever they were. So, I texted Chip and I'm like, "Is it really true that you're trying to outrun the law on a jet ski?"

All he sent back was, "Please send bail money."

So, hopefully Mindy will keep him out of trouble this go around. Okay, so, we have a lot to cover today. As you saw from our bumper video, we're going to be talking about our mouth and how our mouth can get us in trouble or not. And I just thought, well, let's get in trouble with our mouth to start off the thing a little bit. I thought it might be good to have some good, clean, old-fashioned church gossip. How does that sound to you guys? I just thought that would be a little bit fun.

I mean, when's the last time you heard some really good gossip at church? Well, I hear you guys in the hub every week. I know you guys gossip. I'm talking about when was the last time you heard gossip from the stage? I guess that's a better way to put it. So, I thought, "Well, okay. Let's gossip. What would be fun to gossip about?"

I thought, "Snowbirds, because they're gone. This is going to be awesome. We can gossip. How fun is that?"

And then I thought, "Well, you know what? It's about time I gossip a little bit about snowbirds because now I've been a Floridian for three years."

So, I'm official. I've earned the right. I'm entitled to have an opinion. By the way, anybody says the words "I'm entitled," you just need to run. That one's for free right there. But, I'm entitled to share my opinions about the snowbirds. So, I thought, "Okay, let's do this."

So, first of all, before I say these gossipy things, we all know – this is just a disclaimer, but it's just Captain Obvious. We know we're not talking about the Grace snowbirds, right? I mean, we're not talking about them. We love the Grace snowbirds. We love the Grace snowbirds who come down, support our church, attend, they give, they watch us online. Hey, guys. How are ya? We love them. We love the Grace snowbirds. We're talking about all the other snowbirds. You know? Like the Methodist snowbirds. Don't even get me started on the Presbyterians. You know as well as I do that they're just out of line.

And this one's for free too: When you gossip, it's less gossipy if you share it in question form. I'm just trying to help you guys. I mean, you're just kind of thinking out loud, right? So, here's a couple of questions we can peruse this morning about snowbirds.

Number one: Why in the world do snowbirds go out during rush hour traffic? Have you ever wondered that one? I mean, where are they rushing to? They're like 108. They're snowbirds. You know? I mean, those of us who have to work for a living, 9-5, stay off the roads. You're sitting on University Parkway and nobody's moving. Do you ever just kind of want to get their attention while they're right by you in the car and kind of do that, "Hey, could you not put your massage off until 10:30? Could you just not? Or your tea time or whatever?"

Okay. I'll get off that one. Number two: Why in the world do snowbirds have to eat out every single meal? I mean, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It doesn't matter. Any time you drop into a restaurant, it's full. Not even just the good restaurants, but even the bad ones. Like the healthy ones that nobody wants to go to. You know? Like I tried to go to Sweet Tomatoes during snowbird season and they told me I had to wait an hour. I'm like, "An hour? You guys serve rabbit food. It's just lettuce. That's all you have."

One hour wait at the Sweet Tomatoes. Okay. I'll get off that. Third question: Why do snowbirds come to Sarasota just so they can talk to each other about how everything is so much better back home? Oh, I felt it in this place. I got an "amen" on that one. I mean, you'll see them like when you're out in the restaurant or in the mall and they're all in a group talking because they're like hyenas. They pack wherever they go. They'll be talking like, "You know, this place doesn't have a good pizza joint. Back in Buffalo, New York. This place doesn't have a good golf course. They don't have good roads or sports teams."

Whatever they're arguing about, everything's better back home. Have you ever just wanted to go up to their little pack and go, "Hey, I'm a pastor. I help people for a living. So, I heard your conversation. I can tell you guys maybe need some advice. I'm just spitballing here, but why don't you go home? Like, how about that for a thought? Just go home. We'll help you pack. It'll be a church fundraiser. It'll be great. We'll do all sorts of stuff."

One day, I crossed the line. I have to admit I shouldn't have done this. But, I was walking out of a restaurant that took me an hour to get into. I heard all the snowbirds talking about how they missed Buffalo or whatever. And I got out and there was, right in the handicap parking spot right out front – and the person probably wasn't handicapped. Don't get me started about that one. But, it was a snowbird car and on the back of the bumper, just a three-foot bumper sticker, said, "I miss Chicago."

You miss Chicago? It's February. You miss Chicago? I've been to Chicago in February. Nobody misses Chicago in February. I just got worked up the more I thought about it. I'm like, "You're here in paradise, right? Sarasota. Eating our fresh seafood, crowding up our roads, crowding up our beaches, and you want us to feel sorry for you because you miss Chicago?"

I mean, really? Seriously? The more I thought about it, I just got worked up. I'm like, "He misses Chicago."

People are walking out the restaurant and I'm like, "Look. Pray for him. He misses Chicago. Bless his little heart."

I got worked up and I thought, "You know what? Maybe we can help him. He misses Chicago. Maybe we can do something about that."

So, I broke his window, I stole his radio, I shot out his front two tires and I left a note that said, "Here. I hope that helps."

I miss Chicago. Even God doesn't miss Chicago in February.

And end. Okay. So, how did my first gossip session go from the pulpit about snowbirds? I'm in big trouble, aren't I? Yeah. Oh well. Before they send me back to Chicago, let's move on quickly. For the next few minutes, we're going to be talking about our mouth. Just like you saw, you can get in trouble with what you say. We're going to talk about the power of our mouth. We're going to look at a bestselling book that spent 50 years researching the culminating effect of our mouth. Then we're going to finish out our discussion by examining what God has to say about our mouth. And hopefully we'll take a few practical tips home with us along the way.

Alright, before we go get started, let's pray.

Father God, we thank You for fun and laughter in the house. We pray that you would bless Chip and Mindy immensely for a much deserved break and getaway. We just pray that You would restore them and fill them with Your peace and Your love. And God, as we spend the next few moments looking at Your Word and talking about a subject, we just pray that You would give all of us in this room the courage to lay down our preconceived notions, our drama, issues and everything that holds us back from Your best and find us open vessels with open arms and open hearts that are saying, "God, come in and have Your way. Move in me and change me and make me better than when I got in here."

God, if we will have that heart as we move forward, we can truly believe that You will transform all of us so we can walk out of this door different and better and changed because we had a moment from heaven. We ask that now in Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."

A few years ago, noted psychologist and professor, Dr. Donald Clifton, wrote this monumental, New York Times Best-Selling book. It was a business, leadership, motivational book. It's called "How Full Is Your Bucket?" You can't see it from there. Based on the findings of this book, countless people and thousands of businesses changed everything in terms of the way they treated people. Employees, vendors, customers; it didn't matter. Business retreats, marriage retreats, family retreats built around this book for the last 10 years. Clifton's landmark discovery came after spending 50 years and interviewing over a million people. And it's amazing to grasp that Clifton actually started this study in 1950 and he finished it up a little bit past 2000.

He went on to write another monumental best-seller called "Now Discover Your Strength." I'm sure some of you guys have seen that and I bet many of you in here, especially if you work in a corporate environment, have taken one of Clifton's strength finger assessment tools to help you figure out your proper fit at the job and that type of thing. So, this book, "How Full Is Your Bucket," great read, millions of interviews, hours of reading, hundreds of pages. I have boiled this book – I've done the heavy lifting, I want you to know. I did that for you. I boiled this down to about three or four slides. That's about as far as I could boil it down. This is kind of cliff notes on steroids. So, stay with me. We'll get through it and then we'll do a little compare and contrast with what God has to say. So, here we go:

Clifton discovered, early on in his research, that whether you are having a long conversation with your best friend or a short, surfacey conversation ordering a hamburger at the local restaurant, that all conversations mattered. Here were the big three realities. Number one: Every interaction makes a difference. Two: The results of our interactions are rarely neutral. We think they are, but they're not. Three: These interactions accumulate and have a profound effect on how people see themselves and how people live their lives.

And I think we all kind of get that the big conversations that we have leave some type of impression oftentimes. But, Clifton's research showed all interactions with people leave a mark no matter how big or small the conversation. So, in this book, "How Full Is Your Bucket," Clifton tires to simplify all of his findings into a very easy to explain metaphor around a bucket. Here it is. Here we go. Stay with me.

First: Each one of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled depending on what others say or do to us. When people say or do positive, life-giving things, our bucket fills up. If people say or do negative, destructive things, our bucket empties. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel awful.

Alright, so far, so good. And, by the way, when he was talking about the stuff that's in your bucket that empties or fills, he's talking about the stuff of life. You know? Your zest, your vim, your vigor, your mojo; the things that make you fulfilled and happy. That type of thing.

Alright. Part two: Each one of us also has an invisible dipper. That dipper represents our ability to say or do things that cause other people's buckets to either be filled or emptied. When we say or do negative, destructive things to other people, we're using our dippers to take life from other people's buckets. When we say or do positive, life-giving things to others, we are using our dippers to add to other people's buckets.

Now, here's the part they didn't see coming in the research: The more we use our dipper to give life to other people – even though we're taking it out of our bucket and putting it in theirs – the fuller our buckets become. The more we take life from others, the emptier our buckets become. Every moment in every day we have a choice to either fill or empty other people's buckets. Our choices will profoundly effect the lives, relationships, productivity, health and happiness of other people while, all at the same time, profoundly effecting us as well.

So, great book. Great read. All of it true. And remember: Corporations have fired leadership and redesigned their whole business model based on the book of the bucket principle. And two quick examples from the book I really wish I had time to unpack, but we're on a tight schedule here. So, I'll have to fly through them.

One: Both Dr. Clifton and the University of Denver did this incredible study with married couples where they interviewed thousands of married couples. All they did is film them talking for 20 minutes. A couple just talking about random things for 20 minutes. Then they would go back and review the tape and they would separate how many positive things versus negative things the husband and the wife said to each other. Now, through that process, they created an algorithm. They did this over a span of 30 years measuring how many positive statements to negative statements the couples said to one another. Based on that measurement – check this out – they could tell you with 94% certainty what couples were going to be divorced in 10 years or still married.

It was just a ratio of how many things they said to each other; positive to negative. The second illustration has to do with the American POWs in the Korean War. Now, this was interesting and tragic as well. During the Korean War, we had an astonishing 40% of the American POWs die while in captivity in Korea. Much higher than any other war, by the way. So, America was convinced there was foul play after the war. When the freed POWs came home, there was a massive investigation. All the freed POWs were interviewed trying to figure out what they did. They didn't feed you? They beat you? What did they do?

In all the interviews they received just kept saying, "No, they treated us okay. They didn't beat us. They didn't torture us. They fed us."

Well then why did the people die? This is what the prisoners said. They said, "They just gave up. They just gave up life. They just gave up hope."

They said, "Well, why did they give up?"

"I don't know. We just all were just massively depressed. It was a very sad environment."

So, they went and interviewed. "Well, what was your everyday occurrence?"

And that's where what you realize is Korea was doing psychological warfare and their whole goal was really just to break the spirit and the will of the men so that they wouldn't escape or attack people or that type of thing. But, what it did is so much more. It was just psychological things that emptied all the men's buckets where all the men stayed, got no positive reinforcement, no positive emotional support even from one another for year upon year upon year.

They would do little things like they would reward tattletales and that would break up the division of the prisoners. Or they would get them all in a group and everybody, before they left, had to say one, two or three things that they did that they failed on, that they were miserable in life or that they regretted. These type of things that they would do would just suck all of the life out of the prisoners. So, the surviving prisoners came back and said that literally there were just guys that got in their bed, put the sheet over their head and died.

Through the research and examples like this, Clifton surmised if people can ruin marriages and end lives based on speaking or doing negative things to people, can speaking positive things into others actually help them live better lives? And 50 years of research and a million interviews later, the answer was 1000 times yes.

Incredible stuff. Again, incredible stuff. But, here's the truth. This is no disrespect to Dr. Clifton. Everything said in this book, God has been saying for thousands of years. Everything in this book. And I love it. I don't know about you. But, it's just me. I love it when man, science and research only proves God's wisdom. It's a thing for me. This bucket book was celebrated as some hallmark, landmark research breakthrough. And while I applaud their hard work, I really do, it's not a new idea. It's simply truth from heaven. And it's even more important to those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Okay. So, let's start by looking at our main verse for the day. Proverbs 18.

"A man's stomach shall be satisfied by the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

Now, we will get back to this verse in a minute and break it down line by line. Because, there's some really good stuff in here. But first, let's quickly kind of do Scripture grenades and look at a bunch of Scriptures real quick just to show you that this whole "what comes out of our mouth is a very important, big deal" is something that's threaded throughout all of Scriptures; not just located in one or two places.

So, here we go real quick.

One: "A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but a sinful tongue crushes the spirit."

Paul said it this way in Ephesians: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen."

Jesus said it this way in Matthew: "A good person speaks good things from the treasury of a good heart and an evil person speaks evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this: You must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you."

And if that wasn't hard enough, James, Jesus' brother, actually said it a little harder: "Our tongue is a world of unrighteousness set on fire by hell itself."

Now, that's a pretty strong word, isn't it?

"With our tongue we bless our God, then we turn and curse people who are made in the image of God."

What James is saying is that this shouldn't be the way we live life. So, okay. Let's go back to our main verse of the day and unpack it a little because we've all heard that one line that's in the middle of this whole verse. But, I don't think we ever really get to unpack the whole thought.

"A man's stomach shall be satisfied by the fruit if his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

Alright. Here we go. I think, if we're to be honest, most of us would say we get the death and life part, but the rest of the Scripture is a little unclear. Solomon's using some imagery and metaphor that the ancient reader would've understood. But, if you're a little bit like me, it might be a little hazy to you. So, let's break it down.

The first line: "A man's stomach..."

Now, this is important because if you miss this, you miss the rest of the deal. What Solomon is talking about by a man's stomach is that represents the consequences of your life based on the choices that you make. And the reason he uses the stomach as imagery is like if I eat an apple and it goes down to my stomach, my whole body is going to endure the consequences of that apple; hopefully nutrition. But, if I eat poison and that goes down to my stomach, my whole body is going to have to endure the consequences of eating that poison.

So, that's what he's talking about. When he says "a man's stomach," he's saying, "Your consequences."

Then the next line is "shall be satisfied."

All the means is a man's stomach shall be satisfied, will happen or will occur by the fruit of his mouth. Solomon uses this terminology interchangeably throughout Proverbs so we know what he's saying. He uses the term "fruit of your mouth," "fruit of your lips," "fruit of your speech," "fruit of your tongue." And he always is talking about the same thing. The things that you are saying. The words that are coming out of your mouth. That's what he's saying with that line.

So, to simplify the first sentence, it sounds like this: "The consequences of your life are determined by the words that come out of your mouth."

And let's look at the last sentence of verse 20.

"From the produce of his lips he shall be filled."

Now, Solomon here is going to a farming term, produce, which means, literally, yielded fruit; the stuff that comes out of the ground based on the seeds you sow. So, in essence, what Solomon is saying here is, "Hey, look. Your lips plant seeds that create a harvest. It's a lot. I mean, it'll make you filled. It's a big harvest and you're going to have to eat it. You're going to have to deal with it. You're going to have to stomach what you plant."

So, to simplify verse 20 by unpacking all the metaphors, this is what we've got so far:

"The consequences of your life are determined by the words that come out of your mouth. Your lips plant seeds that create a big harvest and you'll have to stomach the fullness of your harvest."

Now that we understand 20, the next part is pretty self-explanatory; especially the first part. But, we might need a little help with the last sentence. So, here we go:

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

Now, you guys get the death and life part. That's the part that's quoted in Christianity all the time. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Pretty clear. But, let's look at the next sentence.

"And those who love it will eat its fruit."

Now, what that simply means is "and those who like to use it." When Solomon says, "Hey, you love your tongue," what he's saying is, "You use your tongue a lot. You must like it because you use it all the time."

So, what he's really saying through that is, "And those who like to use their tongue will have to live with the consequences; good or bad."

So, taking out all the imagery and metaphor and just going into a very simple language, here we go. Let's look at Proverbs 18:20-21. We'll call this the Tom Jones Revised Bible Translation. So, here it is:

"The consequences of your life are determined by the words that come out of your mouth. Your lips plant seeds that create a big harvest and you'll have to stomach the fullness of that harvest. Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who like to use their tongue will have to live with the consequences; good or bad."

Now see, if you've heard this Scripture, if you're like me, most of us thought, when we hear this Scripture, the only thing it's saying is, "Hey, don't say bad things to people because your tongue can actually carry things to hurt people or help people. So, make sure you say nice things to people."

And that's part of this Scripture. That's great. But, that's not the main point in context. The main point in context is, "Hey, don't say bad things about people because you will have to live out the consequences of what you say. If you say good things to people, that's good news because you will get to live out the consequences of what you say."

Well, I've got to be honest with you. I worked real hard on this. I looked through the Hebrew. I studied this all week long. And, with all the fear and humility I have in my heart, I just have to tell you I really just think I did so much of a stinking better job unpacking this verse than Pastor Chip would ever do. I mean, I tried hard here. But, all I get to hear around here is "Chip, Chip. He's so smart. He knows Greek and Hebrew."

I took the Hebrew class and passed it too. Whoop-de-do. And they're like, "Yeah, but he doesn't use any notes."

I'm like, "Well, he makes it all up when he gets up here. Gah-lee."

Okay. But, that's my issue. Maybe I should work through that on another day. Just kidding. Alright, so, all joking aside. I'm in real big trouble now.

Let's pause and really look at 20 and 21. So, if we back up here and just kind of inhale this, this is pretty strong. I mean, this is kind of a big deal because it's telling us that a lot of our life is determined by what we say. And that's pretty strong stuff. I mean, I think a lot of us think that most of our life is determined by our actions or hopefully a lot of our life is determined by prayer. But, do we really have the revy that a lot of our life is determined by what comes out of our mouth?

Now, I read about eight or nine commentaries this week and I was a little surprised to find that a thread throughout some of these theological heavyweights is that they all admitted that this Scripture and Scriptures like this scared them. It perplexed them. They went, "Wow. I just don't know how to swallow this."

Because, if it wasn't in the Bible, some of them said, I wouldn't even believe this is true. But, the Bible is telling us that a lot of our life is determined by our mouth and that's a pretty big line. Because I don't know about you, but I'm not so sure I love the thought that everything I say is a seed I sow and every seed I sow is a harvest I reap. I'm not so sure I love that idea. This is a big word. This is something that we see throughout the whole thread of Scripture that over and over is saying, "Be careful with what you say."

So, here's our big idea today. I know it's not sexy, but I think it's something that all of us need to be reminded on, especially me, on a regular basis. This is how it goes:

Many Christians struggle with seeing the bad things they say as a real sin. I mean, I just think, when we boil it down – I think we know it's a sin. I mean, we do. Like a lower-case sin. You know? Lower-case "s," but maybe not a capital "s." And I was trying to think about, all week, why. I mean, we read it in the Bible and we see it, but it's easy for us to fall back into those habits of saying bad things. And I don't know, I was just guessing here, but maybe we don't think our words actually create that kind of damage. So, we really don't think it's a super big sin. Maybe we go, "Well, there's no visible evidence of it right at first. So, maybe it's not as big of a deal."

For example, if I pull out a knife and stab you in the heart, nobody in the room is going to debate if what I did was wrong or if it was a crime or if it was a sin. I mean, everybody would be against me stabbing you in the heart with a knife. Well, unless it's a snowbird and that's just...

I'm just kidding. Just relax. I'm just being silly. No, but that's a no-brainer, right? I stab you in the heart with a knife and it's a sin. There's evidence to the fact. I've sinned against God. I've sinned against man. There's a bloody knife. There's a flesh wound. There's probably a dead person laying on the floor. There's blood all over the place. No doubt a grave sin. But, if I stab you in the heart with my words, what are the real, immediate consequences? There's no evidence of sin. No knife. No flesh wound. There's no immediate consequence.

If I stab you in the heart with a knife, I'm going to jail. If I stab you in the heart with my words, I just walk away. So, I think, perhaps – and again, we're just guessing here – that maybe sometimes what we struggle with is that we conclude, "How can our word really be such a big sin when we don't see any visible, immediate evidence of some kind of bomb happening?"

So, let's finish our big idea. Many Christians struggle with seeing the bad things they say as a real sin. However, if God's Word tells us repeatedly that lives flourish or die, including our own, based on what comes out of our mouth, then it must be a pretty big deal.

Here's a good question: "Okay, Tom. We're looking at the Bible. We get it. The Bible tells us not to say stuff that's bad. But, does the Bible tell us what constitutes bad talk? I mean, what kind of bad talk should we avoid?"

The great news is yes. There are tons of Scriptures that tell us not only what to say, but they also tell us what not to say. Here's some of the things. You can Google these or look at them in your Bible app and you'll find loads of Scripture. Gossip. Listening to gossip. Hey, that first one, gossip, by the way, the Bible defines gossip as saying bad things about people. I think, sometimes, people go, "Well, gossip is when you say something that's not true about people."

No. The Bible says gossip is when you say anything bad about somebody, whether it's true or not. And one of the things that I actually wasn't thinking about until I did the Bible study this week was do you know that listening to gossip is just as much of a sin as saying gossip? And I thought about all the times that I've let people say stuff when I should've just – you know, I didn't need to be self-righteous or whatever. I should've just changed the conversation. Because, listening to it, God's making me just as accountable as saying.

Slander. How about complaining, criticizing, murmuring? Also known as the whole Old Testament. Really, when you look at the whole pattern of God and His people, they would be doing good, they would separate from Him, they would rebel and then they would start to complain, murmur and criticize. Then God would judge them in order to have them repent and come back. But, if you'll look through that thread of the Old Testament, this is what you'll find oftentimes: After God kind of has enough and He's over it, He goes back to them and He says, "That's it. What I'm going to put on you is everything that you have been saying. All the fears and all the things that you've been complaining and murmuring about, I'm going to bring that back on you because you didn't have faith and trust me."

Exaggerating, lying, judging, hating. And, again, when you find these Scriptures, you will see that it tells us, over and over, that we reap what we sow when we do these things. Now, here's a real mind-blower just to be honest with you. This one, if you're like me, you're going to have a hard time wrapping your head around. Because, if all that's true, what we've just said for the last few minutes, and we all pause and take a quick inventory of, the last few months, what's been coming out of our mouth, then can we be so bold as to actually say this: Perhaps a lot of the bad stuff going on in our lives right now would go away if we simply learned to close our mouth?

I don't know about you, but that one got me. And Joyce Meyer said it this way. She said, "You know what? A lot of Christians are praying for deliverance from a situation their words got themselves into."

And I thought, "You know what? That's a good word."

In America, see, we have this thing called "freedom of speech." We love our freedom of speech which means we can pretty much say anything about anyone, anytime, anywhere, criticize, judge, gossip, slander with no real fear of repercussion. We just really don't. And I don't know about you, maybe it's because I'm getting old, but, when I look at 2017, the amount of slander, gossip, criticism about everything going on is just epic. It is at epic proportions how we all just slam people and criticize stuff. And that seems to be our way of life. And boy, do Americans love that freedom. But, just as much, even Christians love that freedom. And I'm not saying there's anything against freedom of speech, but here's what you and I both know: God's ways are not man's ways. That's the revy we've got to remember. And the Lord Jesus Christ has called us to live by a standard much higher than even the ideals of a country we love.

Just because it's an American right – listen, guys – doesn't mean it's actually God's best for your life. So, listen. As we land the plane on today's message, let's just look at a few practical steps and take-homes and then I'll let you go.

So, in review, number one: What comes out of my mouth truly effects my life and the life of other people. Number two: If I am not speaking life, then perhaps I should just stop speaking. Number three: I need to fill my own bucket with God's love and God's promises and what God has to say about me.

Now, before we move to number four, the reason that's important is because the one thing that's not true about the bucket book – well, it's just one thing they left out – is that if you live your life waiting for other people to fill your bucket, you're going to have a tough life. It's always nice when people say good things about you or compliment you or whatever. We all love that, right? But, if you're waiting for other people to fill your bucket, you're going to be up and down your whole life.

So, the call of a Christian is for us to fill our own bucket with what God has to say about us. See, we've been talking today about the most powerful words in the world and that we can speak life and death. Well, the most powerful words that can speak life to you and I are the words God says to you about you. God has spoken words of life to you and we all have to hide those in our heart. Because, if we go out these doors and we expect the world to fill our bucket, we're going to be very, very disheartened. So, God says, "Look, the system is really easy. Spend time with me. Find out and remind yourself what I said about you. Fill yourself with my love, my forgiveness, my power."

And then, step number four: After that, walk out the door and speak life.

You know, Pastor Chip just got through an amazing series and he talked about how many Christians just run around Planet Earth looking for God's will. But, God's will is, oftentimes, very simple. We are supposed to spend time in quiet time reading our Word, coming to church, listening to worship in the car or whatever, filling our own bucket with God's love, God's promises, and what He says about us. And then we're supposed to go to Planet Earth and every person we touch we are supposed to give it away and speak life. That is the process and that is the life of an abundant Christian.

But see, we can't give away what we don't have. You can't give away anything if your bucket is empty. So, you first have to make sure that you fight for those moments with God, that you come in and you remind yourself what He says to you about you. That you're the child of the most high God, that you're a joint heir of the Kingdom of God, that you're radically loved, that you're completely forgiven, that you're totally equipped for life and godliness to do everything God calls you to do, that He calls you "more than conqueror" when the world will say you're a victim or you're a slave, that He says that there's resurrection power flowing in your bones, that you can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives you strength.

See, those are the things we have to hide in our heart. And if we'll do that, an amazing transformation will start to take place. We will stop seeing people through our eyes and we'll start seeing how God sees people through His eyes. And there's an amazing thing that happens with that, because then we're not looking for people to tear down. We're looking for people to build up. Then we're looking around and we're valuing people and we're loving people and we're encouraging people. Because, when you see how God speaks about us, He speaks about hope and He speaks about our future. He calls us saints when we don't act it because He's speaking towards what we can become.

And that's the transformation that if we fill ourselves up with God, we will see people and we'll see their future and their potential. Instead of trying to catch people doing things wrong, we'll start to try to catch people doing things right and value them and praise them and pour into them. Because, that's what can happen when our bucket is full with God. And in that process, if we will do those things, our good words will become God words and there's this amazing, supernatural thing that takes place. Because, at that point, with our spoken words we can heal the sick. With our spoken words, we can mend the broken-hearted. We can fix broken relationships. We can help people, through spoken word, find Jesus. And we can help people find their way back to Jesus. We can fix major problems. We can settle major disputes. And yes, a thousand times yes, this is true: If we have God in our heart and we go out and give God away, we can even bring dead things back to life.

That is what it looks like to be a Christian who speaks life and goes against the grain of everything out there. And it's going to be hard. There's mob mentality. Everybody at work sitting around the coffee pot saying bad things. It's easy to get sucked into it. But guys, there's clarion call from heaven calling us to rise above all of that stuff. We're better than that. And the calling that's on your life is better than that. And if we'll do what He tells us to do, we will fill ourselves up with Him and we'll go speak life and love and hope and blessing onto other people, then don't forget the best part of this story: God reminds us, "You always reap what you sow."

Let's speak life, guys. Let's pray.

Father, we thank You for Your Word that makes things so clear to all of us, even when sometimes life can get a little shady. I have to start, first and foremost, as I looked at these Scriptures this week and had some time with You. I just had to realize, you know what, there's times that I had to say, "God, forgive me, and I repent."

And Lord, this word is not for anybody to feel religious and guilty, because that's just weird and that doesn't change anybody. But, what this word should do is just inspire us. The word "repent" simply means to go the other way. So, God, that's what we want to do today as Your people. We just want to repent that if we've been doing stuff, if we've been speaking death, if we've been being critical, if we've been allowing people to gossip to us or whatever, that God, this is the day that we go, "You know what, Lord? I'm laying that down. I know it's a daily battle and I have to fill myself up with You. Because, if I try to do this on an empty bucket, there's no way it's going to happen. But, if I fill my bucket with You, then I can go out there and literally change the world. And I can go against the flow and against the grain and I can speak life to dead things and I can see the miraculous power of God just from the things I say."

God, I know that's going to be hard, but we ask You right now to fill us with Your Holy Spirit, give us the ability and give us the courage to be the people You've called us to be. And the amazing thing about this is if we do this, if we take You up on this, if we take up the challenge and we will fill our bones with what You say about us and we will go out to Planet Earth and we will speak life and we will speak blessing and we will speak good over people, then not only can we change Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and this whole world, but, because You've created this process, we also change ourselves along the way.

Help us, Lord, to be the Christians You've called us to be. Help us speak life. In Jesus' name, and all God's people said, "amen." God bless you guys. Have a great week.