Are You Listening
Feb 21, 2014
From the Landfill to the Boardroom
Jan 28, 2014
Learning to Live in the Kingdom
Dec 11, 2013
There's one problem with traveling as much as I do. When you're staying in a different room every few days the bathroom keeps moving. It's no big deal when the lights are on. But in the dark it can cause trouble. Once, after spending a few nights in one hotel and then moving to another, I got up in the middle of the night and walked smack into the wall. As lost as a goose in a hailstorm, I thought, Where did the bathroom door go? Yesterday it was right there!
Of course, that was nothing compared to what I experienced the night I kicked the ottoman - and I was at home when that happened! Gloria and I had just gotten back after a long stretch out of town. She and the kids had gone to bed but I was still wide awake. So I'd stayed up for a while. When I finally got sleepy, I turned out the lights and headed for the bedroom.
Maybe I was disoriented from our travels, I don't know. Whatever the reason, I forgot about the ottoman. It was a big, square, green thing Gloria had bought. Heavy enough to make you huff if you tried to pick it up, when I drop-kicked it in the dark, it didn't give an inch. But my toe sure did. I heard it pop and a shock of pain shot through my whole body. I knew instantly I'd broken it. Without even thinking, I blurted out a string of words. Before I tell you what they were, I want to ask you something:
What would you have said? When some unexpected circumstance hits you, what are your first words likely to be?
You need to know the answer to that question because first words are extremely important. They license spiritual laws to go into operation. They either allow the law of sin and death to take over, or they activate the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
The moment one of those laws is set in motion, unless you do something to stop it, it will continue to function until it accomplishes its end result.
and the Law of Lift
To see what I mean, think about the natural law of gravity. You live under its influence all the time. It's constantly operating on you and around you. Because, through the physics of the earth, it's already been set in motion, it functions automatically, accomplishing its end result which is to hold you to the ground.
When you get in an airplane, however, that hold is broken. You're free to fly from one point to another, not because the law of gravity ceases to exist but because the plane introduces another law that supersedes it—something called the law of lift.
Spiritual laws work the same way. The law of sin and death, like gravity, is always at work in the world. Because of the devil's influence, it constantly exerts a downward pull toward darkness and the curse. Apart from Jesus, the effect of that law is inescapable.
But, thank God, as born-again believers, we're not apart from Jesus! We're in Him and, as Romans 8:2 says, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made [us] free from the law of sin and death."
Like the law of lift, however, the law of the Spirit of life doesn't operate automatically. It must be activated. We choose to put it into effect by speaking words of life. Since "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21), if we don't speak life over the different areas and situations in our lives, the laws of death will continue operating there by default.
Many Christians don't know this but it's true: Even though we're born again and Jesus shed His blood to give us the authority to live His victorious life, as long as we keep talking like the world, we'll keep getting the world's negative results.
"But Brother Copeland, sometimes when I first react to a situation, I'm upset and spout stuff I don't really mean. Surely those kinds of words don't make any difference."
Yes, they do. They make a tremendous difference. In fact, the first words you say about a situation reveal what's really going on with you. They show what's been stored up inside you in greatest abundance because "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things" (Matthew 12:34-35).
"But those verses couldn't possibly apply to me!" you might say. "I don't have any evil treasure in my heart."
Are you certain about that? Are you sure you've never been like the people Hebrews 3:12 refers to as having an "evil heart of unbelief"? Those people weren't killers or anything. They were just children of God who tolerated and talked unbelief and fear.
We have to admit, we've all done that at times in our lives. It can even become such a common occurrence that it doesn't seem like any big deal. But, according to the Bible, faithless, fearful words are a very big deal. They qualify as evil and bring forth evil things in our lives.
That's why God warns us again and again about the words we speak:
>> Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. (Proverbs 21:23)
>> A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.(Proverbs 13:2)
>> A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)
>> A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. (Proverbs 18:7)
>> Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. (Proverbs 4:24)
Look at that last verse from Proverbs 4:24. A "froward mouth" is a disobedient mouth. It's a mouth that has yielded to the law of sin and death instead of the law of life in Christ Jesus. By speaking things contrary to The WORD of God, a froward mouth sets in motion a deadly cycle that—if it's not stopped by repentance, the blood of Jesus and The WORD of God—will end in some kind of destruction.
Why Would Someone Say That?
I saw an especially sobering illustration of this many years ago when a woman came to talk to me during a series of meetings we were holding. "Brother Copeland, I need you to help me with something," she said. "My family had a massive car wreck some time ago. We drove through an intersection and someone ran a red light at a tremendously high speed and cut our car in half. All of us except my husband were severely injured.
"My children lay scattered alongside the highway—one with his skull cracked open and the others bleeding and unconscious. Too ounded to help them, I lay on the ground praying in the spirit as my husband went around checking on us.
"When we got to the hospital, the doctors didn't think some of the children would live through the night. But as it turned out, my husband is the only one who died. What happened?"
"I don't know," I said, "but I'll tell you what we can do. Let's agree in prayer that God will show us."
"OK," she said. So we prayed together.
The meetings continued for another three weeks. At the beginning of the third week, after hearing me teach these basic truths about the power of our words, she came to me and said, "I know what happened. The Lord showed me.
"After the wreck, the first thing I said was, ‘God, thank You for Your healing power. Thank You for taking care of my children. Then I started praying in tongues. When my husband came to check on me, he looked strange. I guess he was in shock but he leaned over me, looked me right in the face, and said, ‘I'm a dead man.'
"Oh, Brother Copeland, why would he say such a thing?" Obviously, he had a fear of death. He'd been thinking and talking about it for years. Maybe he just talked about it jokingly or to himself. But one way or another, he'd used his words to put certain spiritual laws into motion.
His tongue started that trouble and his tongue finished it in a way that was completely contrary to the will of God.
You Can Turn It Around
Can you see why first words are such powerful, serious business?
"Yes, but what can I do about those I've already spoken?" you might ask. "I can see now they've activated the law of sin and death and started things moving in the wrong direction."
Then wipe those words out by obeying 1 John 1:9. It says, "If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Why must you confess your sin? Because when you do, you speak words of repentance. Repentance, which means to turn around and go the other way, starts things moving in the right direction.
Once you've repented, you can get busy making sure your words don't cause you more trouble in the future. Look up what Proverbs 4:24 says about getting rid of a froward mouth, then back up to verses 20-23 and you'll see that God tells us exactly how it's done.
"My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
If you'll implement this process, your heart will get so full of The WORD there won't be room in it for anything else. Then, when the pressure hits, your first words will be words of faith. You'll bring forth good things out of the good treasure in your heart without even having to think about it.
That's what happened to me the night I kicked the ottoman. I'd been studying these things and practicing them, so the first words that flew out of my mouth were these: "Jesus! I'm healed in the Name that's above every name."
I didn't just say it, either. I shouted it because that's what was inside me in abundance.
"Did your toe stop hurting right away?" you might ask. No, it didn't. It was still throbbing when I went to bed. The next morning when I woke up, before I even put my feet on the floor, the devil started badgering me about it. Why don't you look at your toe? See if it's still broken. You'd better check on it. It's in terrible shape. It's turned all black.
"What's so strange about a black toe, Satan?" I said. "Some of my very closest friends have toes that are all black!"
I have no idea why I said that. It just came out of me and it shocked the devil just like it shocked you. He didn't have any defense for it. So he got quiet and I got tickled. I laughed a little while; then I shut my eyes and put my socks and shoes on.
When I went into the kitchen, Gloria was already in there making breakfast. "On the way to bed last night I kicked that big green ottoman," I told her. "But I want to tell you I receive my healing. It's mine!" She agreed with me and we shouted and praised God and had a big time.
Later, I went to the airport to talk to a man about buying an airplane for the ministry. The receptionist greeted me and saw I was limping a little. "Did you hurt yourself?" she asked. I didn't know her but, deciding to take the opportunity to confess my healing, I replied this way: "About 2 o'clock this morning I broke my toe. But Jesus said when He was on earth, ‘Whatsoever thing you desire when you pray, believe you receive it and you shall have it.' So I want you to know that my foot is healed in the Name of Jesus."
By the time I finished that last sentence, she'd left the room. With my toe still hurting, I got back into my car to drive over to where the airplanes were parked. A minute or two later when I pulled up next to them and stepped out of the car—guess what? I put my weight down on that foot and it was just as healed and pain free as it is right now. What happened? First words!
The first words that came out of my mouth about that situation had activated the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. They'd set in motion the law of healing and blessing, and because I stuck with them that law kept working and produced the end result. That's the great thing about laws. They work every time for anyone who will put them to work. From now on, remember that; and use first words to put the law of the Spirit of life to work for you!