Pleasant Words to God
In a message earlier this year, we talked about the need to use pleasant words when we talk with other people.
That need is taught in the Bible. Here are just a few examples. We are taught that pleasant words are sweet to the soul and health for the body. We are taught that rash words can hurt as much as sword thrusts, so we are to make sure we use our words wisely so we can bring healing to others. We are taught that our words are to build each other up, which can be done as we speak with kindness and encouragement.
We are to use pleasant words when we talk with other people. In a couple messages after that, we talked about the need to also use pleasant words when talking with God. In those messages, a number of things were discussed that can be said that are pleasant for God to hear.
They are that our God is the creator, the one and only God, the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the loving God, the God of justice, and the faithful God. And that God is merciful, a refuge and a fortress, the only wise God, and holy. That He gives generously. That He is the great provider. That He is the shepherd of His people.
In this message, seven more pleasant things we can speak to God - and about Him - each one based on the Bible. The first for this message is this. God is my victory.
God is my victory is based on a verse in II Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 14. “Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.”
To understand that verse, we need to consider what happened in the Roman Empire at the time Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians.
When a Roman general was victorious in battle, he was given a great parade, called a Triumph. The parade was through the streets of Rome to the capitol. In order, it included state officials and senators, then trumpeters, then the spoils taken from the conquered land, then pictures of the conquered land and models of the buildings and ships captured, then a white bull for the sacrifice that would be made to a Roman god. Then came the conquered people, including leaders, all in chains and on their way to prison and possibly execution. Then came other musicians, then priests swinging containers of sweet-smelling incense all around, followed by the star of the show, that being the victorious general, followed by his family. Then the army the general had led, all the soldiers shouting in victory. All that happening in the midst of wildly-cheering people.
Such a procession is what Paul had in mind. He saw Jesus as marching in triumph. But listen to this. Not every victorious general was given a parade. To attain that honor, a general had to have been the commander-in-chief of the troops and the campaign had to have been completely finished, the region pacified, the troops brought home. At least 5000 of the enemy had to have been killed, territory had to have been gained, and the victory had to have been over a foreign, not a civil foe.
Does that describe Jesus? In many ways it does. Jesus is the commander-in-chief of all spiritual forces - the good spiritual forces. The campaign He leads was completed at His crucifixion and His subsequent resurrection. Think of the great number of enemies of God who have been silence by Jesus. Many, many hearts have been gained over the centuries. Hearts taken away from Satan, who is the enemy.
The only part that does not apply to Jesus is that those of us who serve Him now - His present-day troops - are still here. We have not been taken home to Heaven. However, there are still those who need to hear about Jesus. There are those who need to be drawn to accept Jesus.
As long as that is the case, it is our privilege to keep serving Him, but the point of this first pleasant thing to say to God is that He is my victory. As He has brought victory over and over in the past, He will continue to bring victory now and in the future.
But, you might ask, how can I say that when there is so much death and destruction all around the world, including against Christians?
Part of the answer is this. The fragrance referred to - the fragrance from the incense - was sweet to those who were victorious, but it was sickening to those who had been defeated because the smell reminded them what was coming.
It is the same way now. Those of us who are Christians are sometimes offensive to non-Christians simply because we remind them they are not right with God. That causes some of the bad stuff going on around the world and even in our own country.
How can it be said Jesus will continue to bring victory? The rest of the answer is this. For all who stay true to the Lord, no matter what, there is the promise of Heaven. That is victory.
The other times we thought about pleasant words to God, we practiced saying them together. We are going to do that again. Please join me in these positive words to and about God.
God, You are my victory. You always have and always will lead me
in the triumphal procession in Christ. Help me always to be
Your spiritual fragrance in the world.
Proclaim to God He is our victory. That is one way to give Him pleasant words. Other pleasant words? God is my peace.
That is based on II Thessalonians 3:16. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in all ways.”
What is peace? How about the lack of conflict? How about having a good relationship with other people? How about having a good relationship with yourself? How about having a good relationship with God? How about staying true to God, ourselves, and others, even when things around us are not going well?
In fact, that is what Jesus referred to in one of His teachings to His disciples. In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you.” He was about to be crucified. Though He would be resurrected, a few weeks after that He was going to return to Heaven. He was going to leave His disciples physically, but He said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled.”
As the world gives peace, peace is felt only when everything goes well. But Jesus gives peace differently. Even in the midst of problems, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid.” Even with troubles all around, we can still be right with God. When we are right with God, we can feel good about ourselves. With God’s help, we can be civil to others, whether they are civil to us or not.
Which takes us back to II Thessalonians. “May you have peace.” Notice peace cannot be achieved on our own. See it? “May the Lord of peace give you peace.” The same point was made by Jesus in the other teaching just described. Peace is a gift from God. “May God give you peace.” When? “At all times.” How? “In all ways.” No matter what, God makes peace available. It is ours for the taking.
Let’s say this together, before which I have this comment. If you do not have peace - the kind of peace available from God - do not say these words. Do not pretend. Do not say the words just to be saying them. Instead, if you do not have God’s peace, pray about having it. Peace that is available only to those who believe in Jesus.
Pray if you need to. Otherwise, let’s say these pleasant words to God.
I praise You with all my heart, O God, because You are the giver of peace.
Other pleasant words for God? Thank Him for being the God who heals.
We certainly know that in the form of Jesus, God was a great healer. Throughout His ministry, Jesus healed so many people. People who were lame or deaf, blind or mute, at least one who suffered from a fever and several who were possessed by demons.
We know the healing power of God. Some in our very own congregation have experienced it first hand.
Just one I will mention is a case quite a few years ago when a woman had a growth under one of her arms. She was prayed for before she was scheduled for surgery. When she was in the operating room, the doctor touched the affected area to help get the woman into the proper position. “What?” he said. “What’s this? The growth is gone.”
The woman was released from the surgical ward. Soon she was released from the hospital. She had been healed without the use of surgery. What a wonderful miracle that was.
However, even as I proclaim that God heals, I realize not everyone is healed physically. People still suffer.
Interestingly, that included the apostle Paul, who suffered what he referred to as “a thorn in the flesh.” We do not know what that was, but it might have been a physical problem of some kind.
People still suffer. Some still die. So what is the point of saying God heals?
Let me answer that with a thought. In Psalm 103, we are called to bless God. According to verse 3, one reason to do that is the promise that He “heals all our diseases.” However, right before that promise are the words, “Who forgives all your iniquity.” All your sins.
Putting those two together, could it be that the Bible also refers to spiritual diseases being healed? Spiritual diseases like pride, arrogance, disbelief, refusing fellowship, laziness toward spiritual disciplines, neglecting to seek and set your mind on the things of God.
When physical healing takes place - which it does - it is wonderful proof of God’s greatness. When spiritual healing takes place - which it does - it can happen for you and for me, just for the asking - it is wonderful proof of God’s love. A love that wants us to be right with Him so we can receive His blessings now and one day be in Heaven.
Let’s say it together.
God, You are the one who heals.
Thank You for Your physical and Your spiritual healing power.
Those words are pleasant for God to hear, as is the proclamation that He is the God of all comfort, which is based on II Corinthians 1:3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”
Paul, the author of the passage, goes on. “God comforts us in all our afflictions.”
What a reminder that even with God, there is not a promise that every day will be easy. Even Christians do face and will face afflictions.
That was certainly true for Paul. In addition to his thorn in the flesh, many of his letters in the New Testament were written while he was in prison. Even out of prison, he faced much opposition from those who disagreed with what he said.
But when afflictions happen, God is willing to comfort us so that we may be able to comfort others who are in any affliction, sharing the comfort with which we are comforted by God.
Let’s say these pleasant words to God. And let’s not just say them. Let’s believe them. If you do not believe them, then do not say them. Instead, pray for the ability to believe them, which starts with accepting Jesus as Savior.
I praise You, O God, for being our Father -
Our Heavenly Father - who promises comfort
to all who accept that gift from You.
God is my victory. God is my peace. God heals. God gives comfort. Those things are not news to God. He knows who He is. But us telling Him who He is is pleasant for Him to hear. Pleasant because it lets Him know we, too, know who He is. Pleasant because as often as we say the words, we are reminded of His greatness and His love.
That is also true with the pleasant words that God is the God of miracles.
We have already touched on this one. We did that when His many miracles - miracles done in the form of Jesus - when His miracles of physical healing were mentioned. He healed people who were lame or deaf or blind or mute or suffered from a fever or were possessed by demons.
There were other miracles. For instance, in the New Testament, the calming of a storm is one that comes to my mind. In the Old Testament, I can think of how God helped His people in their escape from Egypt. including parting the waters of the Red Sea and later the Jordan River. And how, as the people wandered in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land, doing so for 40 years, the clothes and the shoes of the people never wore out. What a miracle each of those things were.
Many, many, many more miracles could be listed. They all prove God is the God of miracles.
Have you experienced a miracle? If nothing else, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you have received the miracle of salvation. None of us has been perfect. I dare say we may not be perfect now. But God forgives all those who believe in Jesus. His forgiveness gives us the privilege of receiving His blessings now and to be in Heaven later. What a miracle that is.
All of us who are Christians, let’s say it together.
God, I praise You because You are the God who performs miracles.
You display Your power among all people.
Thinking of salvation brings more pleasant words to mind, including that God is a forgiving God. That is based on Nehemiah 9:17 in the Old Testament.
In the verses right before 9:17, Nehemiah admits the people of God before Nehemiah’s time had been reluctant to obey God. How truly that describes everyone of New Testament times, including us before accepting Jesus as Savior. In some cases, we did not know God’s teachings. In some cases, we knew, but there was no interest in obeying. Which could understandably have led God to turn away from us.
But that did not happen. And listen. It will happen someday to any who continue to refuse to accept Jesus. If they die while in unbelief, God will not allow them into Heaven. That is not a threat. It is simply a fact.
But here is the rest of Nehemiah 9:17. Words of hope. Words of reality for those who have accepted Jesus. “But You, O God, are ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” With all those qualities, including forgiveness, God did not turn away from those who were before Nehemiah. Even when He punished them, His love for them did not end. Neither will He, as long as anyone lives, turn away from people now, giving them more and more and more opportunities to ask for and receive forgiveness.
Have you been forgiven for your sins? If so, let’s say the words together.
I praise You, O God, because You are a forgiving God.
Thank You for being slow to anger toward me.
Thank You for being abounding in love for me.
The last example for this message of pleasant words to God are these. God is our burden bearer, which is based on Psalm 68:19. “Blessed be the LORD [blessed be God], who daily bears us up.”
In this message, there have been a few troubled times mentioned, physical illnesses and spiritual diseases among them. We know that in our daily lives there are all sorts of burdens - financial problems, relationship issues. Listening to the news gives us a whole lot of burdens to think about.
But here is the promise. God is willing to help you and me and us carry whatever burdens we have. He will bear us up if we let Him do so. Let’s let Him help us. In at least some cases, the problems will not go away, but with His help, we will be able to survive.
And this popped into my mind as I worked on this part of the message. In Galatians 6:2 we are taught, as Christians, to bear one another’s burdens. How can that be done? By allowing God to be part of it. As that happens, we can all take advantage of God’s ability to bear us up.
So let’s say it together.
Praise be to You, O God.
Thank You for bearing my burdens daily.
* * * * *
The other times we talked about pleasant words to God, a story was told. Since it has been a while since it has been told, here it is again.
A father wrote that his son was learning to count. He counted everything from toys to trees. He counted wildflowers on his way to school and the toes on his dad’s feet.
The dad added that he tends to become so immersed in things that need to be done, he often forgets to count - to count the good things around him. Things like new friends and answered prayers. And, as we have discussed today, that God - our God - the one true God - is our victory and our peace, the God who heals and comforts, the God of miracles, including the miracle of forgiveness, the God who is the burden bearer.
Let’s count those things as blessings. Let’s say those things to God. They are and will be pleasant words for Him to hear.
Today’s closing song is verses 1 and 4 of Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again:
Gladly forever adore Him.
God is the God of victory and peace. He does heal and comfort. He performs other miracles. He is a forgiving God and the God who is the burden bearer.
Let’s share each of those facts with God and about Him. By doing that, we will be speaking pleasant words to Him. Let’s do that daily. Amen.