Encouragement for Life

Dealing with Gossip

gossip

It’s a horrible fact: Everyone has been hurt by gossip or slander. No one is immune from the searing pain brought about by false or damaging information. I know I’ve been on the receiving end of such pain and damage. And I’m ashamed to say I’ve been the deliverer of it too. You’ve probably experienced both ends of gossip as well.

Satan and She-Devils

The word slanderer is used many times in the Bible. And it has a frightening meaning! Slanderer comes from the word diabolos, meaning a malicious gossip, slanderer, or false accuser. This word is used 34 times (yes, 34!) in the New Testament as a title for Satan. It is also used to describe Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus and was called a “devil” in John 6:70.

And, besides these references, the word is used in Titus 2:3 and in 1 Timothy 3:11 in reference to women, literally meaning “she-devils” and “malicious talkers.”

Gossips are not in very good company, are they? They are lumped together with Satan, Judas, and slanderous “she-devil” women—not a pretty or pleasant thought, is it? Even the most hardened offender (gulp!) might be ashamed of her gossiping if she realized she was a she-devil involved in slandering and killing others.

Stay Out of the Fray

So what are we supposed to do when we’re around gossip? It’s good to be prepared, and these options will help.

  • Choose your activities carefully—Be careful about talking on the phone, hanging out, or staying too long after your luncheon appointment with your friends is over.
  • Choose words of praise—Be known as a woman who is a friend of women. I call this being a woman who is for other women rather than being against them. God wants you to share words that are full of grace (Colossians 4:6), wise and kind (Proverbs 16:23-24; 31:26), pleasant, sweet, constructive, and instructive. May your speech edify and minister grace to your hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Choose to pray—Rather than talk about someone who has issues, pray for them. And while you’re at it, pray for yourself and your speech. Also pray for those who harm you. This way, you’re telling the right person—God, not everyone else—about your problems. His job is to deal with those who wrong you (Romans 12:19). Your job is to pray and to forgive.
  • Choose to deal with gossip as sin—This is where I had my greatest breakthrough. Acknowledge to God that you have a problem with gossip. Confess it as sin. Tell Him all about it (1 John 1:8-9). And ask for His help.

RESPOND

Dear Lord, please help me make it my goal that, in every encounter, others are better off for having been in my presence. Amen.

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REFLECT

Do I enjoy gossip more than I enjoy honoring the Lord and others?

What is my plan to avoid gossip?

REMEMBER

God wants you to share words that are full of grace (Colossians 4:6), wise and kind (Proverbs 16:23-24; 31:26), pleasant, sweet, constructive, and instructive.

Finding Time for a Quiet Time

Quiet Time

Lunch out with friends…or quiet time with your Bible? Hmm. Sometimes this choice is really hard, isn’t it?

Time for Ourselves

Time for ourselves is important, but that priority takes second place to God’s calling to train our little ones. This is your highest and most noble calling. But we can’t give out what we don’t possess, so it’s vital to nurture a passion for God’s Word and His wisdom.

Time for God

Spend some time each day reading the Bible. Share its life-giving truth with your children. It requires the sacrifice of time and energy, but the years you have with your children fly by so quickly.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart.” Your time in God’s Word is time He’ll use to make you a mom after His own heart. It’s time well invested!

RESPOND

Lord, help me choose You and Your Word as my source of strength and refreshment each day. I want to deepen my understanding of Your love and Your will so that I become a mother who invests in her faith and family with everything she has and is. Amen.

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REFLECT

Read one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day (hint: read the chapter that correlates to the day of the month).

REMEMBER

Your time in God’s Word is time He’ll use to make you a mom after His own heart.

The Best Way to Make a Decision

decision

 With shaking hands and a pained heart, I hit the end icon on my cell phone and concluded a life-shattering and life-changing call. One of my brothers had just given me the news that our dad, at age 95, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and would need nursing care for the final days of his life.

My brothers had all talked and agreed that they could take turns sitting with our dad on the weekends, and maybe I could be there during the week. The only issue with their decision was that I was in California and our dad was in Oklahoma!

I immediately went to my husband, Jim, so we could talk, pray, and weigh the situation. Little did we know my father would live—and suffer—for a year. But, I have no regrets in traveling back and forth to care for my father. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Make a Decision

Life requires that you make decisions. And obviously there are a variety of levels of decisions to be made. Some simple; others complex.  Each and every decision you make, regardless of its level of intensity, can have long-lasting consequences. If you had to make any of these serious decisions on your own, it could create stress and anxiety.

Help in Deciding

But, praise God, He hasn’t left you without help. He has given you His Word to show you the way as a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Psalm 119:105). He has also given you spiritually mature Christians in your church who can help provide guidance.

As I look back on other decisions I’ve made, I realize I learned many times the hard way that, when I didn’t pray, seek God’s wisdom, or ask for godly advice, I just about always make wrong decisions.

So, speaking from experience, here are some guiding principles to use before making a decision.

No decision made without prayer (Philippians 4:6-7)

When in doubt, don’t (Romans 14:23)

Always ask “What does the Bible say?” (John 17:17)

Always do what you know is right (James 4:14)

Don’t let fear influence you (1 John 4:18)

RESPOND
Dear Lord, thank You for Your wisdom and guidance. Amen.

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REFLECT

How often do I pause to ask the Lord for His wisdom on a matter?

REMEMBER
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Stop Complaining

stop complaining

We all make choices in what we do with our day, our thoughts, and our words. A favorite verse of mine ends with the words, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NASB). I don’t want to be robbed of even one of God’s riches by not taking time to let Him invade my life. The bottom line? I want to be a woman after God’s own heart!

Stop Complaining

One sure way to do this is to stop complaining. In Philippians 4:11-13 the apostle Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (NIV).

Never once do we see Paul quitting, having a fit, or complaining. Regardless of his predicament, he was content. Why? Because he looked to his Savior for strength.

Start Praying

The Bible says to be steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord. And when you do, you’re on the way to becoming the best possible woman you can be—a woman who serves the Lord in her words and her deeds.

Make a daily commitment to God. It can be as simple as praying, “Lord, today I give myself anew to You!” Your heart for God should be like a boiling pot—intense and passionate. There’s no way to ignore that kind of fire!

RESPOND

Lord, help me look to You for my purpose and my strength. Lead me every day so I can do Your will and serve You to the best of my ability. Amen.

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REFLECT

Do I pause to consider my words before I speak?

Memorize Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without complaining and disputing.”

REMEMBER

Regardless of our predicaments, we can be content. Why? Because our Savior is our strength.

What to Do about Worry

I’m a person who used to sleep with my pillow under my stomach to comfort my bleeding ulcer instead of sleeping with the pillow under my head. Finally I acknowledged that worry is a terrible sin… and a terrible habit. As I read my Bible and grew as a Christian, I couldn’t help but notice there are so many commands in the Bible telling God’s followers not to worry!

Worrying is a Bad Habit

I grabbed onto these two and began to pull them out when I felt my stomach burning or caught myself wondering and worrying. Jesus commanded: “Do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25). And Paul commanded: “Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6).

Worrying is a bad habit. A habit is anything you do on a regular basis. Habits can be good ones…or bad ones. Reading your Bible and praying are good habits that you want to be a part of your life. But any habit, whether it’s an action or attitude or thought process that tempts you to turn your heart away from God and onto yourself is a bad one and must be changed and dealt with dramatically and drastically.

What to Do about Worry

Worry is definitely one of the actions that takes your eyes off God. Worry says that “this” (whatever “this” is that you’re worrying about) is something that can’t be handled by God, with God, or by His grace. This attitude is the exact opposite of trusting God. You might as well be wearing a T-shirt or pin that says, “I don’t trust God.”

The goal of spiritual growth is to exchange the bad habit of worrying with the excellent habit of trusting God. Whatever your situation, do your part. Do all you can. But most of all, be sure you turn your concern over to God!

RESPOND

Dear God, I so easily focus on the bad and then I worry. Please guide me in redeeming my negative thoughts by using them as reminders to pray. I want to fully trust You in all things. Amen.

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steadfast love

REFLECT

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5)

When trouble crosses my path, what is my first reaction: do I worry or do I pray?

REMEMBER

The goal of spiritual growth is to exchange the bad habit of worrying with the excellent habit of trusting God.

I Will Give You Rest

i will give you rest

If your life is uncertain and filled with difficulties, be encouraged! God is not asking you to handle your entire life all at once. More often than not, your what-if imaginings about the future turn out altogether differently. Instead of being anxious, choose to concentrate on today. With God’s strength and grace, you will make it.

You can also choose to pray and draw near to the God who loves you unconditionally and promises to take care of you. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” God loves you and wants you to rest in Him.

Let today be the boundary for your fears and worries: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things” (Matt. 6:34). And if the going gets tough, concentrate on making it through one hour at a time without anxiety. Faithfully follow Jesus one step at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.

RESPOND

Father, today I give You praise and thanks. Every circumstance brings me to my knees before You because You are the Author of my life. You are Creator, King, and Savior. I am blessed and privileged to be Your daughter. Amen.

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REFLECT

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

What is your first emotional response when you are tired? The next time you find yourself exhausted, turn to God and ask for His rest.

REMEMBER

God loves you unconditionally and promises to take care of you.

How to Slow Down – Teen Tuesday

Slow down

 

Moms and Grandmothers, today’s devo is designed for you to share with your daughter to have a conversation about how to slow down to spend time with God.

Have you ever felt nervous…fidgety…on edge… cranky? And even though you didn’t want to act the way you were, you kept on stomping through your day, lashing out at everybody who crossed your path? Well, take heart! You’re not alone!

This happened to Martha, a woman in the Bible. She got too involved in the activities of her life. In all her busyness, Martha didn’t take time to enjoy Jesus and worship Him when He came to visit.

Are you thinking, I would never ignore Jesus if He came to my house! But imagine how easy it is to go about your day without lifting up a prayer, without doing devotions, without serving Jesus, without thanking Him. You’re missing out!

Put aside the busyness and chaos of school, pressures, and worries. Totally enjoy time with the Lord.

RESPOND

Lord, I love You. I want to hang out with You. Life gets crazy sometimes. I want the peace of Your love. I want the joy of being in Your presence. Amen.

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REFLECT

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42)

What can you say no to today so you can say yes to time with God?

REMEMBER

All our time is better spent when some of our time is spent in God’s Word.

The Simple Solution to a Better Day

Day

Psalm 121 is one of the “Pilgrim Psalms” or “Songs of Ascent.” Each year God’s people were required to attend the annual festivals in Jerusalem. Fulfilling this law called for a commitment to a long and strenuous journey—an uphill climb every step of the way up to the mountaintop where the temple, the seat of worship, was located.

Uphill Climbs

These devoted worshippers trekked through desert lands where bandits often robbed the pilgrims along the way. Families banded together and traveled in caravans to provide safety for all family members, from babes to the aged. And they sang these songs as they ascended the terrain to the temple!

Many of our days are uphill climbs. Our climbs at home and at work often involve stress, weariness, and the challenge of managing heavy burdens and workloads. It’s hard some days to find any joy as we labor on. Yet these pilgrims sang!

Unending Praise

They sang songs like Psalm 121 to praise God as they pushed themselves and their gear uphill. On their way to worship God, they worshipped Him with songs of praise. As they struggled onward and upward, through music they …

  • rehearsed God’s promises.
  • recounted His character.
  • recalled His faithfulness.

As you step into your day and step up to take on your responsibilities, with every step you take, lift up your eyes to the Lord. Lift up your songs of praise when you are worn out and weary. Lift up your heartfelt worship as you labor. Your help comes from the Lord.

RESPOND

Lord, I lay before You my worries, my sorrows, my disappointments, and my failures. I am looking to You for a portion of Your strength for today—and for joy in my work. As I rise to take on the tasks ahead of me, I give thanks as I remember that “My help comes from the Lord.” Amen.

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REFLECT

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber… neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:1-4)

Do I daily spend time in prayer and God’s Word?

REMEMBER

“God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.” (Andrew Murray)

Sweet Speech

Speech

Fast talk, sarcasm, and banter can be fun. That would be something I would do if I didn’t continually ask God to “sweeten” my speech.

Sweetening My Speech

I can verbally spar with the best of them, but is that what God is asking of a godly woman?

Choosing words that build up and lift up yourself and others will bring praise to God. Those words will also bring a gladness that surpasses the momentary satisfaction of winning an argument.

Saying Nothing

When you speak, make sure your words “come from [an] upright heart,” and that your “lips utter pure knowledge.” Ask God for His help in curbing rampant, destructive, and ungodly speech. Proverbs 12:18 tells us, “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”

If you want to be wise, restrain your lips. Just say nothing. Try it for a day. It will be difficult, but it will be a day marked by wisdom— a day of glorious victory, peace, and self- control.

RESPOND

Father, help me remember to hold back from speaking the sharp words that come so quickly to my mind. Fill my mind with Your thoughts and my mouth with Your wisdom. Let my speech be sweet and encouraging. Amen.

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REFLECT

If you want to be wise, restrain your lips. Just say nothing. Try it for a day.

REMEMBER

How to Make Good Choices

Choices

Who is the most important guest you have ever had in your home for dinner? Well, just imagine what a stir was caused when Jesus and His disciples showed up for dinner at the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha went immediately into high gear and tore into preparing food for her VIP guests. At some point Martha became frustrated. Without thinking, she complained to Jesus because Mary, her sister and helper, was sitting at His feet listening to Him while He taught instead of assisting with the serving.

The Good Stuff

Sure, preparations for dinner needed to be made. And 12 guests for dinner is a houseful! But this is how Jesus evaluated Mary’s choice to stop her busy serving, sit at His feet, and listen to Him: “Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (verse 42). It’s sort of like Jesus was saying, “Listen, Martha, you have all your life to fix and serve food, but today you have Me. Don’t berate your sister. Mary made a most excellent choice.”

I’m sure you already know your actions are a matter of choice. You also know that some choices are made for you because they are out of your control. But multitudes of choices arrive with each new day which are yours to make. And these choices, my friend, are a matter of your will. You get to decide what you will or won’t do, how you will or won’t act.

Guidelines to Make Right Choices

The following guidelines will help you proceed through your day, confident that you are seeking to make the right choices.

  • Treat each day as being important. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
  • Acknowledge your need for wisdom—and ask for it! “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
  • Develop a deep respect for God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
  • Maintain a vital relationship with Jesus. “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17).
  • Pay any price for the truth. “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

RESPOND

Dear Lord, please help make the decision-making process clearer for me. When I am faced with a choice to make, help me know to either do it or don’t do it. Thank You for Your wisdom. Amen.

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  • eliminating timewasters and negative thoughts and attitudes
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REFLECT

“Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
How often do I carve out time in my schedule to sit with the Lord and with others?

REMEMBER

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Elizabeth & Jim George


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