Remember how good it felt to raise your hand in school when you knew you had the right answer? You couldn’t wait for the teacher to call on you, couldn’t wait to hear her say, “Yes! Well done.”
Not much different now, really, when you’re in a Bible study, and the leader asks someone to share what they’ve learned from a passage.
Pick me, pick me.
When God gives us good words to say, we need to speak up. But if we’re not careful, we’ll be that guy (or girl). You know the one. Full of pride, showing off, wanting to impress, forgetting where that knowledge or insight came from in the first place.
Especially for those of us who love to hear the sound of our own voice (we know who we are), here’s a word from Proverbs we can all to take to heart.
A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23
A person finds joy…
Joy is an all-good thing. No calories, no cost, no worries, no down side. Good for the body, good for the soul.
The Hebrew word used here means “gladness, mirth,” so we’re talking a serious party. Not just short-lived happiness, but “great joy” (VOICE) that lasts a long time. Like maybe forever. And it’s universal, something “everyone enjoys” (NLT).
Okay, we’re in.
But there’s a catch. This joy is outward focused. We do it for the good of someone else, and not for ourselves. The “pleasure” (MSG) we experience is a by-product of doing the right thing. Or, in this case, saying the right thing.
Want more joy in your life? Speak words that bless others.
…in giving an apt reply—
I may be an English major, but I seldom use a phrase like “apt reply” when I’m talking to a friend. Kinda stuffy. “A good answer” (ERV) or “good advice” (EXB) helps me grasp what God is saying, which I believe is this:
When someone asks you a question, and the answer you give them is “appropriate” (CEB) or “fitting” (NLT) or “suitable” (WYC), that means the Lord has used you to dish out a blessing.
So, who gets the glory for this apt reply? Right. God, not us.
As a writer, my own words come slowly, even painfully. They are not the words most people remember. Ever.
When the Holy Spirit steps forward and breathes life into us, suddenly our words have power. God’s power, not ours. God’s wisdom, not ours.
I’m guessing you’ve had an experience similar to one of these two:
A friend asks you a tough spiritual question. Immediately, almost effortlessly, a wise and biblical answer pours out of your mouth, one that meets her needs and solves her problem. You think, Where did that come from?
It came from God.
Or you’re asked to speak, so you carefully prepare a message. Then, right in the middle of your speech, an unplanned comment pops out that just rings true. The audience nods or claps or shouts “Amen.” All the while you’re thinking, Man, I need to write that down!
Yes, you do.
Another translation of Proverbs 15:23 reads, “Joy belongs to a man with answers in his mouth” (LEB). Too right. When you are fully aware that the answers you speak are God working through you to bless another believer…well, that’s joy.
Shared joy, at that.
…and how good is…
Good is a word that’s easy to discount. On a scale of Horrible to Fabulous, humble good falls in the middle somewhere. We equate it with “okay” or “average” or “nice.”
That’s not how this good works. Oh no. Think “wonderful” (TLB), “beautiful!” (MSG), “delightful” (NASB). Think “good!” (GW) with an exclamation point. Fact is, “there is nothing better” (ERV) and it’s “always best” (WYC).
When my son sees something he likes and responds, “Sweet!” (VOICE). he’s saying more than he knows.
Just for fun, try this today: Whenever you see the word good, mentally drop one o and see if it reveals the source of that goodness: God. From the very beginning, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10). He defines good in terms of himself. All that he makes is good. Including you, beloved.
…a timely word!
We read a Scripture someone posted on Facebook or scribbled on a greeting card, and think, “That is exactly the word I needed from God today!”
Yes, it is. Exactly.
God offers “just the right word” (GNT) to meet our needs, to alter our thinking, to change our hearts, to shape our behavior. It comes “at the right moment” (AMP) and is “spoken in due season” (KJV). That’s how much God loves you. He knows your needs, your hurts, your seasons. And he often meets those needs through another one of his children.
As it happens, I wrote this post while traveling through the Holy Land with a group of lifelong friends. (Now you know why I’m a day late. SO sorry!) How good is God, to have chosen this verse for this week, while the six of us are living out Proverbs 15:23 as we open his Word, seek his truth, and encourage one another with timely words.
Wherever this week finds you, I pray you too will experience his kind of JOY.
A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23
Now, here’s your Printable of Proverbs 15:23, with four copies of our verse on a single page. Cut them apart and post them where they’ll help you imprint God’s Word on your heart.
You’ll also find our verses on Pinterest, with a new addition each week. Love doing these for you!
Now it’s your turn
Just one question for you:
- Have you ever had an experience like the two I mentioned, when you sensed God offering a timely word through you? Describe it for us.
Please post your comment below. We love learning from you!
Can’t wait to dive into #48 next Wednesday, coming to you live from Jerusalem.
Your sister, Liz
I love the parallelism in this Proverb. Hopefully that will help me memorize it. So “joy” goes with “good” and “apt reply” with “timely word.” Your pictures also help me when I’m trying to memorize, Liz. Thank you!
I had been involved in a Bible study where we had been discussing Gnosticism. I wore a necklace with a Celtic cross (a gift from a friend) and a worker at my school
saw the cross and asked me if I was involved in the “old religions.” I told him if he meant Christianity, “yes.” However, he said he was referring to Gnosticism, etc. My heart was crying out to The Lord to give him an apt reply. As we discussed what he believed vs. true Christianity, words came out of my mouth that were a revelation even to me. It truly filled my heart with joy to go beyond my own knowledge to share a timely word that I pray sowed a seed that bore fruit in that gentleman’s life. What a great verse! Praying for your travels, Liz!
A timely word from The Lord is a precious gift. Just last week a good friend was telling me about one of her children struggling and just by stopping everything I was doing, everything,- and listening , she unloaded with many tears. I looked deeply into her heart with compassion and love. Jesus spoke through me to toucH her hurting soul and speak the words that gave comfort and answers. God will use you -if you draw close to Him and obey. His mercies are new every morning. I am looking for “good”- “God” all day today! Thank you Liz!
I’ve experienced this on a number of occasions and knew for sure that it had to be God. It came to me at just the right time.
This has happened on a number of occasions. The timing was so perfect. I knew it had to be God.
I had one of those moments very recently. Context: I have been having some health challenges which found me plodding (literally) through the Christmas season. I slowly accomplished all that was before us, visited & enjoyed our family time in spite of it. I had a song stick in my head which most song leaders might reserve for Christmas only but I felt I needed to include it just this past Sunday so I did. I did not explain to the congregation any details but I did say something along the lines that when I was putting the Christmas décor away I had had the thought that “Christmas had felt like every other day and then it hit me that Christmas IS like every other day.” I shared that though the song might seem to be a ‘Christmas song’ that it would not let go of me (God) and that Jesus IS for everyday. That we don’t need warm fuzzies to make our Christmas ‘feel’ right (I had not felt any nostalgic warm fuzzy type feelings at all), that Jesus IS for everyday, that Christmas IS today & everyday, that we need to celebrate His coming & the reason why every day. The congregation sang out with great joy & gusto and someone quietly came up to me afterwards and thanked me for sharing as she had not had a great Christmas. I hadn’t understood why I needed to include the song AND to say why, but I am glad I obeyed. Jesus knew this visitor would be among us when I planned the music ahead of time and would need the encouragement just at that moment. Not sure why I am always surprised when He shows us these moments clearly but I always am. I love it when HIS plan comes together and I either am a participant in some way or an observer. The song? “We Have A Savior” by Hillsong. May it encourage someone else 🙂
Every day, every day I experience the truth of this verse. You’ve explained it beautifully. Because I am in ministry leadership, I often find myself in impromptu conversations after a Study or in the Hall on Sundays. And ladies may pour their hearts out, or just make a passing comment of a struggle in their life. Or maybe even share a great joy with me. Whatever the situation, it is truly a joy when the Lord provides an apt reply or timely word. Only He can bring that forth in midst of my own multi-tasking distractions or personal pain management levels. At other times, like yesterday, it is while sitting quietly with an older gentleman while working the polls. He shared his struggle in answering an atheist’s friend challenge regarding the suffering of children in the world. I paused to weigh my words carefully and then was able to share the story of sin and redemption with him even as I responded to his question. God is soooo GOOD.
Actually, I think this one was right on target. I’m in a pretty intense bible study class and I have those ” I know…I know…” moments. I love to read, love history and researching. So I have to keep in mind that the revelations are God’s and be careful not to take credit for His work.
Today, right now as we speak. I may have unintentionally offended someone. I suffer from free-floating guilt issue, so sometimes take on more responsibility than is needful. However, the feelings are difficult, leading to self-loathing and pitiable attempts at self-justification. Am sure many of you know the drill. Today you showed me that God is good, to share his goodness by meeting people where they are at, and through God find their good. And tell them so. My heart is light. Thank you. Joy is sweet.
As a teacher, I always felt that I had to have an answer for everything at all times. What pressure! I am retired now, away from those situations which held such high expectations. I am convinced that the Lord is using my younger brother to train me to do more pondering to remember His Word and to be more sensitive to the openings He gives to apply it or speak it forth.
You have explained the “why” it can be at times frustrating to have so many teachers as friends, and the dynamics of the ‘power struggle’ that is often at play or work, so to speak. Luv my teach- friends, but at times were finding conversations awkward, difficult.
Love your teachable heart, humbleness! You also helped me understand them/ y’all better! See that teaching blood still courses thru you, hee hee. Some of my greatest adventures took place with teacher friends.
Liz, you are simply a “good/God” person! Who else goes on a vacation, and thinks of others to write too on top of everything you are doing too? This makes the words you have carefully written framed in gold…when I get my room or mansion in my Heaven Home, your portrait will be one I will gladly share with visitors!
You will be part of my Downton like exhibit!
Should be to instead of too(1st one)
I’m reading your comment and I thought this woman thinks like me! You actually made me laugh out loud, thank you for that little giggle. Also, I feel the same about Liz -what a great example to want to follow! Bless you today.
I hope you don’t mind, but, I wanted to change it up a little and share how God is offering words to me from others.
I have sensed God offering a timely word through others to me. This has been happening since December. I read your book “The Women of Christmas” and it was such a blessing to me. I think God opened my heart and mind. It has changed me tremendously. Things you say, Liz, other godly women, and my pastor’s worship message—all are heard and felt differently. As Emeril would say, “Bamb!” God meant that for me. Listen up.
One of my Sunday school class ladies had discovered she had a very serious form of skin cancer and had to have surgery the next day. Another class member phoned me and told me how frightened the lady was, and asked me to go with her to the lady’s home. Immediately Isaiah 41:10, a verse my son and I had memorized, came to mind, and I quickly jotted it on a piece of notebook paper as I headed out the door to go to the visit. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” She took that piece of notebook paper with the verse into the OR with her the next morning, and said that verse reminded her that God would be with her, not only in surgery, but in the future as she dealt with her sickness. I immediately had a framed copy of the verse done for her, which she kept beside her chair. She now realizes the fullness of the verse in the presence of The Lord. How blessed to be able to comfort one another from the Word.
A friend was struggling and frustrated when their van became inoperable
Right before their vacation. Out of “no where” I told her that maybe
The Lord was protecting them breaking down on their 11 hour
Drive to Florida. Can you imagine having your can packed, car topper included, 3 kids in the van and then breaking down in the middle of no where? I knew it was from Him
Because she then felt differently and had peace..
Words that uplift or edify others don’t come easy to me (do they to most of us?) but when I get a devotional sent to me (by favorite Christian commentators) I always forward it to co-workers, friends and family. You never know when THOSE words will hit home to someone and bless them! My blessing comes in the reading and sending.
I always find aptly-spoken words on your blog – thank you for being so willing to share. I also love the gift of the printable. Every blessing to you in Jerusalem! 🙂
J is for Jesus
O is for others
Y is for you
Has been my word for the day!
There is a song from CEF that goes with that too; J is for Jesus for he has first place, O is for others we meet face to face, Y is for you; in whatever you do put Jesus first and spell JOY. 🙂 CEF is Child Evangelism Fellowship.
When my father-in-law paseed the Pastor asked if anyone had anything to say. I knew this was coming so the night before I worked and worked t write this “speech”. Well, when know one stood to say anything I gave a silent prayer ” Lord Help me through this” and headed up front. You know He heard me! I looked at the cards I was holding…then put them aside. I filled with a peace. The nerves settled down and even though I can’t recall a thing I said the words came. My husband was near tears as were others. Everyone came to me after and thanked me for the kind words! Yes, I know it wasn’t me! God put them in my mouth for sure!
Oddly enough, I learned my lesson around the 2nd grade. My friend had lost her Grandma and couldn’t stop crying. Out came my words of wisdom. Forgot about it and the day went on. My friend came up to me later on and said “Thank you for your advice. It really helped me.” My young immature 2nd grade self said, “Really? I gave advice and it helped somebody!? I can’t believe that!” The look on her face made me feel bad and I thought “why did I SAY that???” God taught me early on, if I’m glorifying myself, it will come back to haunt me! It’s His words, NOT MINE!
Yes! I have God use me as a vessel to give someone a timely word often. Sometimes complete strangers read my blog and right me and it blows me away how God’s timing works and how He can use me to reach people all over the world, as well right here in my corner of the world. Do I get great joy from reading those response emails? Most certainly! It gives me great joy to know God has used me to make a difference in someone else’s life. It is all in His great plan and I have no idea what He has in store next, but I’m ready and excited!
I had to give a speech at church, speaking in public had terrified me since childhood. I was scared to death. When I started talking about the Lord the words came flowing out. It had to be the Holy Spirit, I have not been afraid since then.
Yes, I’ve experienced those times! I’ve lead Bible Studies when ladies come up after and said to me, “What you said really spoke to me.” My reply is always, “Honey that wasn’t me that was God because I don’t even remember what I said.” God is so Awesome!!!
A few weeks ago I was out for breakfast with some very good friends. We were discussing unsaved loved ones and the burden we felt for them. One friend brought up the fact that her adult son had given his heart to the Lord when he was 12. He then went on to work in a Christian camp and was quite involved in Youth Group at his church. When he went to college he walked away from his Christian faith and has not as yet returned. He’s 33 and his mom and we her friends have been praying for him for many years. The Lord spoke to me and i just blurted out Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” She was so encouraged and excited that she can be confident in knowing that God is not finished with her son. It built up my faith as well to know that God hears and answers our prayers, even those that we’ve prayed so often we kind of stop looking for an answer. Not anymore! Praise God!
An apt reply: I had not heard from a friend in a couple of years and she lived out of state. God kept prompting me to call her. I looked her number up by information and called. She was happy to hear from me but very quiet, we talked for a little while and then she asked, “Why did you call me after all these years?” I said, “I was thinking so much about you and I care for you and was wondering how things are going for you.” She said with tears, “I had just got through praying to God and told him, I am going to end my life because there is not one person in this world who cares for me God; so you just answered my prayer to God. Thank you for your care and for taking the time to look me up.”
Thanks for sharing, Barbara, that brought tears to my eyes! It reminds us to reach out to those that God places on our hearts, we can be the small encouragement that someone needs. Thanks for responding to the Lord’s prompting in your friend’s life!
God’s intervention is so profound! I am sure you are so thankful that you heeded His call. Praying your friend is doing better.
I love this verse and experienced the truth of it a few months ago. I recently went back to school last fall. My major is Human Services and Counseling. One of my teachers is an atheist. During a lecture he said something that didn’t make any sense to me. Before I knew what was happening, I opened my mouth and we began discussing our different views. I knew I couldn’t be quiet that day- the Holy Spirit took control of my mouth. It’s my prayer that I gave an “apt reply” that day and that my teacher will become my brother.
There have been times in my career that I have given an answer to a question, and months or years later I have been thanked for the comment. Many times I don’t even remember saying it. I wish you well in the Holy Land. I had a marvelous experience when I was there. One never reads the Bible the same after that experience. I wish I were there.
God often types through me! It is always the coolest thing. God evens Instant Messages! LOL! Because it comes out of my fingers before it goes through my mind and I KNOW it didn’t come from me… Very cool indeed!
I have found that while journaling I will sometimes stop because I can’t think of what I want to write or how to put my feelings into words. The Holy Spirit then provides those words as they go from pen to paper, but yet, they are not my words. Now I get it. Apt responses in writing? I am awaiting the day for those apt words to flow from my mouth. When it is time, they will…in His timing
I love this! Thank you.
Like Sheila, I too, have noticed The Holy Spirit speaking through the words on my paper. I always pray before beginning, asking and inviting The Lord to guide the words that either I need to say or those of my heart. I never type – choosing to use longhand instead.
What I find The Holy Spirit to be saying thru my hand is far more eloquent and comforting than I could ever possibly get across! The Love of God appears and is so gentle and kind. As I close each note, I whisper (or cry) a prayer of thanks to Jesus for His Help.
Those timely words from God come frequently when we seek wisdom. He said ask and receive from Him and He keeps His word. And because God is just plain good to us and shares Himself through us. But do be prepared. A timely word is not always well received. I experienced this with a niece who is incarcerated. While seeking assistance from friends to arrange rehab for her after release and corresponding with her, our relationship fell apart. I look at my motives and they were not self-serving. But like many things in faith, when you step out there you must be prepared to not be well received at times. Jesus wasn’t and his motives were always pure. Mine are iffy at times and I must be careful about that.
Yes, this has happened to me on numerous occasions! I’m always left awestruck that God would use to me in such a way!! Without doubt, I know it’s the Holy Spirit prompting me to say what I said! All glory goes to God!! This is true JOY!!!! Thanks Liz for the good word!!
My Aunt would always say to us kids for whatever reason – I’ve got a joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Down in my heart to stay. And I’m so happy, so very happy. I got a love of JESUS in my heart <3 the song just buried itself in my subconscious <3
As always–God’s timing is everything. I work for an adoption agency, primarily with the prospective adoptive couples. I check in with them every so often as the wait can be days or it can be months–but the wait is always difficult. Before I read the study, I was just sending check in emails to all my waiters…and they are always so grateful. Sometimes I don’t like to do them as they seem so trivial. It’s not the message they are hoping to get from the agency–they want the “your baby is here” message–but it always helps to hear they are still being prayed over and thought of.
Thanks Liz, as always, and safe travels! See you in May!
OMG! Another GOOD Proverb! 🙂 I loved your writing on this – as always! 🙂 God is so GOOD to always to give us the right Word at the right time. I find myself coming out with the right answer to someones question a lot – and thinking how did I know that?! I always give God the credit, because I always ask for His Wisdom in things. The only thing I have found is that I sometimes sound like a ‘know it all’, which I don’t like at all! I am trying to learn how to deliver the wisdom in a much better fashion…so I can be humble, but helpful! 🙂
Oh, and I am so jealous you are in the Holy Land! 🙂 I was fortunate enough to go to Israel with Eagles Wings a few years back – one of the best trips of my whole life! I would love to return!!
Blessings to you,
I have experienced what you speak of several times. I teach an older adult Sunday School Class. On occassions I’ve been teaching and suddenly God took over and the words I spoke were no mine but Gods. They were not written in my notes but came from God’s heart. They were just what need to be said and I could tell they touched someone. God is so awesome! Praise HIm!
I unwisely grabbed a taxi (alone) in our host country one afternoon, armed with nothing more at that time than barely intelligible market Spanish. The driver soon slowed to take on another fare. The intoxicated man who crawled in wasted no time before directing his full and inappropriate attention my way. He became more and more irritated at my inability to comprehend his comments. The situation grew even more alarming when I read the driver’s concern in the rear view mirror. I began to pray silently, asking God to help me understand what was being said and to give me the right words to diffuse the situation. Immediately I recognized what the man was saying to me, and I knew how to reply in Spanish. When I mentioned the missionary hospital where my husband and I work, his demeanor instantaneously changed to apologetic and respectful because they had apparently saved his life at some point in the past. God gave perfectly-timed, appropriate words that turned a potentially bad situation into one that reminded a man of His goodness and faithfulness.
God uses me this way a lot. He is always putting something in my heart either to say it to someone or write a note to someone or even to post it on facebook. God uses me as an encourager. I love to encourage, so my heart is always open to hear. Love this bible study.
Many times with my children when they are going through hard times and at the time I may or may not have the answer. I ask God to give me wisdom when I don’t know how to say what they need to hear and somehow He always gives me what I need to say. I couldn’t say much to their adult problems without His wisdom be given. Thanks for your wonderful encouragement.
My husband was struggling once with a career decision, lacking confidence to act on a desire he had always had to go into business for himself. Prov. 22:29 came to mind which says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings, not before obscure men.” I told him this applied to him as he was very skilled in his profession. It was just the shot in the arm he needed to act on his dream.
This is encouraging to me this morning as I have been praying about this very thing. I am so afraid my tongue will stumble over words when people ask me about my faith or if I feel prompted to share. I know scripture tells me not to be afraid, but it is just good to refresh and see this verse in another light…that it isn’t really up to me to give an answer, but only to obey God when He prompts and to do what I can to keep his word written on my heart. Trust seems to be the word of the day for me lately. To trust Him and let Him take the rocks from my shoulders.
God frequently gives me the words I need at just the right time. Most recently a dear friend lost a loved one to suicide. I praise God that He gave me the words she needed to hear to give her the comfort and support she so desperately needed.
I am late with reading Proverbs 15:23, but I am glad as I am waiting with eagerness to tomorrow’s word and not get behind. Proverbs 15:23 is a timely word and it can relate to us every day, we can speak words of encouragement and positive words that brings life, or we can speak words that bring discouragement and death.
I am asking that the Holy Spirit will fill me with His word and that I can bring a timely word when it is needed.
a couple weeks ago i was reading a bible verse on facebook from isaiah 43:2 when you walk through the waters i will be with you… it made me think of my friend who had
been going thru chemo. i wanted to share it on her facebook but had already shared so much wob her facebook that day so i just hit the like button. i forgot that when you hit the like button it shows up on your news feed. at thesame time i hit like she was in the waiting room for her chemo treatmebt reading a max lucado book and that same verse jumped our to her on the book. she put the book down and went on gacebook and saw i had just read that verse and commented on how she is standing on that verse. i guess you can never overs bee
Great post! I love the way you’ve taken the verse apart and added so much. Yes, I’ve had those moments. Too numerous to count (thank you Jesus), and therefore, hardly remembered. My family and friends tease me “You always have a verse for every situation.” I confess, it’s true. Maybe that is why we are encouraged to hide God’s word in our hearts and that the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance what we need when we need it – for others, as you say, not only ourselves. Oops! See what I mean? Happened again 🙂 Thanks, Liz!
I have had those moments and I think… whoa! Am I hearing God today or what. Many times, after the Pastor shares his message on Sunday, the entire week, I am hit with confirmation over and over again. I love when this happens. I enjoyed the response above about JOY! Nice, very nice.
I’ve experienced this phenomenon a time or two, and the one that sticks out most vividly in my memory is the time I shared a bit of my testimony with a village of women outside of Jinja, Uganda. I struggled with what I wanted to say, because I didn’t think I would have any common denominator with these women. My background and circumstances were just so different from theirs. How could I possibly say anything relevant or encouraging to them? But I went out on what I thought was a limb and spoke from my heart. Wouldn’t you know it; they had just finished a Bible study that overlapped with several of the aspects of my testimony! It was a precious time of fellowship, and I emerged from that day with a renewed respect for that still small voice that speaks so faithfully to my heart.