The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Without gossips, conflict calms down.” Pr 26:20 CEB
Do these three things: (1) When necessary, confront the gossiper. If the offender is a Christian, stand on this Scripture: “If your fellow believer sins against you, go and tell him in private what he did wrong. If he listens to you, you have helped that person to be your brother or sister again” (Mt 18:15 NCV). Now your goal in confronting them isn’t to prove them wrong and you right, it’s to bring reconciliation and preserve unity in God’s family. Watch your tone. “Don’t sin by letting anger control you” (Eph 4:26 NLT). Stick to the facts. Without putting them on the defensive, seek to find a resolution that stops the gossip and repairs the damage. If they’re willing to acknowledge their part, be ready to forgive. If they’re not, forgive them anyhow—for your own sake and God’s sake. And remember, they may continue to be your brother or sister without being your trusted friend! (2) Don’t let gossip diminish your self-worth. If your self-worth depends on what others say, you’ll always feel down when you’re put down. Let your self-worth rest on what God’s Word says about you. Regardless of your imperfections, the Bible says you are “the redeemed of the Lord” (Ps 107:2), “accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6), “the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (2Co 5:21). Focus on God’s estimation of you and “build [yourself] up in your most holy faith” (Jude v. 20 NIV) in spite of others’ opinions. (3) Don’t judge others by rumor-mill reports. Whether gossip is truth-based or false, its intent is always to “destroy” (Jn 10:10 NIV). Don’t do Satan’s work for him!
“Gossips alienate close friends.” Pr 16:28 CEB
Tabloids, talk shows and tattletales thrive on a diet of gossip. Indeed, we’re each likely to spread our share of it and receive our share of it. And whether it’s based on truth, fiction, or bits of both, doesn’t make it any less hurtful. Though society considers it as relatively innocent, God puts gossip in the same company as “backstabbing…conceit, and disorderly conduct” (2Co 12:20 CEB). So, when you’re the target of gossip, what can you do? (1) When possible, ignore it. People who gossip get satisfaction out of upsetting you. So the more you get upset, the more they gossip. Don’t react in anger; that just fuels the fire. “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossips, conflict calms down” (Pr 26:20 CEB). (2) When appropriate, correct it. Gossip can wreak havoc and break hearts. So if you can set the record straight you may be able to contain the damage. But forget about attempting to “tell everybody you know the real story”; you’ll only spread the flames, widen the exposure, and feed unhealthy appetites. Solomon said, “The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food; people like to gobble them up” (v. 22 NCV). Step back and ask yourself who’s really important in your life, then try to correct the record with them. In time, they’ll vindicate you with others. In many cases their words will come across as being more objective than yours. If the gossip is based on truth or partial truth, don’t deny or excuse yourself. True friends always forgive and defend their friends. And gossips generally find juicier rumors, move on, and leave you alone.
“Even to your old age…I am he who will sustain you.” Isa 46:4 NIV
Doctor Marian Diamond, a researcher in aging, found that deliberately induced challenges are required to keep our brains healthy and functioning. In one experiment a group of lab rats was given food, while another group had obstacles placed in front of their dishes. The rats that had to overcome challenges learned to solve problems more proficiently than the comfortable rats. The fewer problems a rat experienced, the faster its brain went downhill. They also discovered that if you put twelve rats together in a cage and gave them challenges, their brains developed better than when they had to face the same obstacles in isolation. And when researchers ran the same experiment with rats that were 600 days or older (the equivalent of 60 human years), the results were the same. The rats actually lived to be 800 days old. Then researchers decided to show them love. The rodents had the same challenges as before, but afterwards researchers would pick them up, hold them against their lab coats, pet them, and speak kindly. They’d say, “You’re one sweet rat,” or whatever it is you say to a rat! And when they did, those critters did more than break the 800-day barrier. At 904 days, not only were they alive—they were continuing to develop. The fact is, they developed more mental resilience under challenging conditions because they were part of a community, whereas isolation caused their brain power to diminish. Bottom line: To age well you need a God-given challenge, love, and good relationships.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Pr 9:9 NKJV
An anonymous poet wrote: “If you can start the day without caffeine; if you can get going without pep pills; if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains; if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles; if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it; if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time; if you can forgive a friend’s lack of consideration; if you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you, when, through no fault of your own, something goes wrong; if you can take criticism and blame without resentment; if you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him; if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend; if you can face the world without lies and deceit; if you can conquer tension without medical help; if you can relax without liquor; if you can sleep without the aid of drugs; if you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed or color, religion or politics; then, my friend, you’re almost as good as your dog.”
Almost, but not quite! This poem is dedicated to two kinds of people: (1) Animal lovers. (2) Those committed to learning and growing: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
“I delight…in what you tell me.” Ps 119:14 TM
Spend time in prayer before you study the Bible. Ask the Lord to cleanse you from all known sin and fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you’ll be in fellowship with Him during your study time. Again, the purpose of Bible study isn’t to get new revelations and new rules; it’s to build a relationship with the Author of the Bible. The Psalmist said, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word” (v. 9 NKJV). Sin doesn’t cancel your relationship with Christ, but it hinders your fellowship with Him. And you have to be in fellowship with Him to understand and apply His Word. So before you search the Scriptures, ask God to search your heart. Paul says, “The unspiritual self …can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit…Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion” (1Co 2:14-16 TM). It’s possible to read the same portion of Scripture many times, yet fail to see what God wants you to see until He “opens [your] eyes” (See Ps 119:18 NKJV). Once that happens, your attitude toward Bible study will be transformed. Like a hungry man or woman at a table overflowing with good food, you’ll long for and relish God’s Word and your faith will grow. Like Paul said: “No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined…what God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you” (1Co 2:9-10 TM).