In my mouth it was . . . sweet . . . , but . . . my stomach turned sour. 

Sometimes a thought arises suddenly in your mind during prayer. Maybe a Scripture verse stands out to you, a song fills you with hope, or tears flow as you recognize your need to repent or to forgive someone. In each of these instances, you have heard a message from the Lord. It can be stirring, even exciting, at the time. But the reality of living out that “word” can be bitter or “sour” in your stomach.

John, the author of the Book of Revelation, knew what that felt like, as did the prophet Ezekiel more than five hundred years earlier. John addressed believers living in a society hostile to the gospel. He saw that bearing witness to Jesus in such a culture could be a bitter experience. Similarly, God commissioned Ezekiel to assure his people living in exile of God’s abiding faithfulness to them. Their lives seemed helpless and hopeless, so his words were surely sweet. But Ezekiel also found it bitter to announce to these exiles the terrible news that Jerusalem, their home, was about to be destroyed.

It’s a sweet thing to know God has said something to you, and not only big things like those that John and Ezekiel were called to convey. Most of us will hear the Lord on the subject of smaller things: forgiving someone, having a sensitive conversation with one of your children, or encouraging a friend or coworker with a verse from Scripture. To be given a word for someone else, to be given a direction by the Lord, is exhilarating!

Right up until you actually have to act. Then you might find yourself with that nervous, sour stomach. But take heart! Remember that God loves you and entrusts you with his word, whether it is a message for someone else or some guidance for your own life. Take time as well! The Lord is patient and understanding. He knows you might need a while to digest what he says. Finally, take courage! Your Father promises, “[I] . . . will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

“Lord, thank you for the sweet words you speak to me. I trust you to help me through whatever might follow.”

Revelation 10:8-11
Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
Luke 19:45-48


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