Job has a nugget of gold for us tucked away in Job 12:11. He says the ear tests words as the tongue or palate tastes food. Last week I was on my annual road trip with friends to the Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. We enjoy great food and engaging conversations on the trip. We wouldn’t return to place where the food disappointed us. As hosts, we want the food we serve to taste good. Yet we often don’t put as much thought into the words we serve other people. Will my words sound good in their ears?

Recently I have been the recipient several times of encouraging words. People went out of their way to thank me for some action I took, to let me know what something I did meant to them, or simply to affirm me. I was struck by how much those encouraging words nourished me and how much I learned from them. It is a reminder of just how much all of us need encouragement. Proverbs 16:21 and 25 tell us that gracious words promote instruction and are healing to the bones. May our words be gracious.

Priscilla’s garden has produced zucchini and it is about ready to give us cucumbers, peas, and bell peppers. The tomatoes are still a longer wait. I was about ready to pick the peppers due to their size, but then Priscilla reminded me that they are not all green bell pepper plants—we have red, orange, and yellow plants also. These all appear to be green because they won’t turn color until they are more mature. Likewise, we need to let God bring our fruit to full maturity and to full color instead of picking it too early.

There’s not always a reason to rejoice in our current circumstances. So this phrase in Romans 12:12 strikes home. We are to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer. It down-poured again last night. I’m not a farmer, but I feel for them as I look around with quarters of farmable land under water. There are so many people facing other crises of health, resources, relationships, etc. The Christian rejoices in what is not yet, stays patient, and prays! Romans 12:9-13 really sums up what matters in the Christian life.

Micah 6:8 has long been one of my favorite Bible verses. Oswald Chambers challenged me with new thoughts this week regarding acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God. Nothing is said about expecting to be treated justly; we are only to act justly. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah (1:8) is told that God will protect his life as a prophet, but not his property or possessions. Chambers says if we expect to be treated with justice, we will lose our devotion to God. I think he is right. Our only concern is to give justice to others.

Jonah was called by God to prophesy to people who would eventually be brutal to the Jews and take Judah into captivity. Jonah didn’t want to preach to them—and he didn’t want them to repent. The Ninevites temporarily and sincerely repented even though God’s people in Judah continually refused to repent. Even the king put off his kingly arrogance and attire and put on sackcloth and ashes. God will save anyone for as long as they are willing to repent. God wants us to focus on our own response to Him rather than how others respond to God.

Elisha was Elijah’s apprentice. I am thankful for the ministry role models I had. Elisha wasn’t ready for Elijah to leave. He didn’t even want to talk about it. When God took Elijah in the whirlwind, Elisha was left tearing his clothes in grief. He had just witnessed Elijah parting the Jordan River with his cloak. Now Elisha is returning and faces that same Jordan River. Elisha asks, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Then Elisha struck the River with his cloak and the Jordan River parted. Elijah’s God was with Elisha and He is with us!