Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me! Have you heard that one before? Have you said it?
I know I have, but it never really sounded right to me. If it sounded hollow and false to you, too, that’s because it is simply not true. According to Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” That’s a long way from “words can never hurt me!”
The truth is that the wounds caused by harsh words, unthinking comments, and put-downs can stay with people for a long time—maybe even a lifetime.
The glorious good news is that edifying, encouraging, and kind words can carry us through very hard and trying times. Knowing the power of words should encourage us to prayerfully consider our words before we speak them.
It’s time to take stock of how you’re using your words. Are you speaking life or death? Are your words full of light and truth or darkness and pain? You get to choose whether your words build others up in Christ or tear them down.
This month we’re going to be looking at some Scriptures that instruct us to build one another up instead of tearing one another down. While there is a time and place for correcting a brother or sister in Christ, that correction should always be done in a spirit of love and grace that seeks his or her good and doesn’t just try to prove that you are right and they are wrong.
The love of Christ compels us to build up others, and the great news is that the spirit of Christ empowers us to do it!
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Proverbs 18, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
There are times when we have all wondered if we should stick our nose into somebody else’s relationship issues. When you’re on the outside looking in, you see things from a different perspective—but is it really your place to butt in?
Read Philemon 20-25. Focus on verse 21.
What was Paul confident about?
What was the obedience Paul talked about in verse 21?
What are some ways that people try to “help” relationship conflicts that only make them worse?
What are some positive ways that people can help others who are struggling with conflict?
Do you have friends who are struggling with conflict? Explain.
Is there a way that you could step in and encourage forgiveness to take place, like Paul did in these verses?
Paul did everything he could to bring peace and encourage forgiveness between Philemon and Onesimus. He was confident that Philemon would do the right thing and welcome Onesimus with open arms. Paul loved both men so much that he couldn’t keep quiet; he had to butt in. If he wouldn’t have, it could have had lifelong consequences.
If you have friends who are struggling with a conflict, don’t immediately throw yourself in the middle of it and try to fix it. First take it to the Lord in prayer. Then, wait for an opportunity to encourage forgiveness and reconciliation. Whatever you do, don’t get drawn into the drama! Remain neutral and encourage both sides to do the right thing. Sometimes it’s right to step in and help reconciliation along!
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Philemon 20-25, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
All it took was one phone call. A minor miscommunication occurred, and before I knew it, the words started flying, the volume began to increase, and the fight was on. I didn’t start it, but I was going to finish it. She can’t get away with treating me like that, I thought. I know I should forgive her, but only if she apologizes first.
Read Philemon 17-19. Meditate on verse 17.
How did Paul want Philemon to treat Onesimus?
Why do you think Paul was trying so hard to bring reconciliation between Onesimus and Philemon?
What did Paul say about how to handle anything Onesimus owed Philemon?
What are some conditions people set before they forgive others?
Paul wanted Philemon to forgive Onesimus. Why might that have been difficult?
Why is it difficult to forgive someone if he or she hasn’t asked for your forgiveness?
How does unforgiveness hurt your relationship with God? Explain.
Paul desperately wanted Philemon to forgive Onesimus’ betrayal and open his heart and home to him again. Paul knew that forgiveness would free both Philemon and Onesimus to serve God together, and he also knew that if unforgiveness were to prevail, then their ministry would be weakened.
If you are a believer, it is your responsibility to forgive others—and to make the first move to bring restoration to the relationship. So what relationships in your life need a little restoration? Are you ready to make the call?
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Philemon 17-19, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
He said he had changed. This time it would be different. He had found Jesus, and he wasn’t the same person anymore. However, Jamie didn’t know if she could trust her father. All she could remember was the fighting, the drinking, and the abuse. Could she really forgive him?
Read Philemon 8-16. Camp out on verse 14.
What did Paul want Philemon to do?
How did Onesimus become Paul’s “son”?
Why would it have been difficult for Philemon to accept Onesimus again?
Why is it difficult to forgive someone who has betrayed you?
How can Christ’s love help you forgive that person? Explain.
Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave who had become a Christian through Paul’s help. Paul knew that Onesimus’ betrayal had hurt Philemon and forgiveness would be difficult. But Paul also knew Philemon’s character and believed that once he heard how Onesimus’ life had changed, Philemon would welcome him back because of his love for Christ. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is completely possible through Jesus’ love. When you remember how much you have been forgiven and what it cost Jesus, it should compel you to forgive others. When you forgive, it screams to the world, “I belong to Jesus!”
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Philemon 8-16, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
After a long, hot day of doing yard work, my daughter brought me a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. As I felt the coolness on my lips, drank in the smell of the lemons, and tasted the sweet goodness, the cold drink revived my body and boosted my spirits. Simply put, her act of kindness brightened my day.
Being a Christian isn’t always easy, and there are times when it seems downright hard! That’s when a kind word, a helping hand, or a note of encouragement can be lemonade to a weary believer’s parched soul.
Read Philemon 6-7. Take some time to ponder verse 7.
What was Paul’s prayer for his friends?
What is effective faith? Do you have it? Why or why not?
How had Philemon encouraged Paul?
What does it mean to refresh the heart of a saint?
Have there been times when you needed your heart refreshed?
Who is known for refreshing your heart?
In what ways do you refresh other believers?
In today’s passage, Paul wanted to let Philemon know that his kindness, encouragement, and love had brought joy to his spirit and had refreshed his heart. That’s a great reputation to have. I don’t know about you, but I want to be someone who brings encouragement and refreshment into others’ lives.
Take a moment and think about the other believers in your life. Do any of them need to be refreshed? Who needs a word of encouragement? What will you do to refresh their hearts this week?
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Philemon 6-7, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
People talk—whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or in person. Girls post about their boyfriends. People tweet about their plans. We text others about our friends. People talk, so what are they saying about you?
Read Philemon 1-5. Ponder verse 5.
To whom was Paul writing?
What had Paul heard about him?
When people talk about you, what would you like them to say about you?
In what ways can you show the world that you love Jesus this week?
How can you demonstrate your love to other believers on a daily basis?
Why is it important to be known as a person who loves others? Explain.
What kind of reputation do you have?
What areas of your life do you need to change in order to have a solid, godly reputation?
When Paul wrote this letter, he’d been hearing a lot about Philemon and the others—in a good way. People had noticed Philemon and his friends and commented on their love and faith. They had a reputation that spoke volumes about the God they served.
Paul was undoubtedly pleased, but just think about how pleased God must have been. Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the others in the church were actively living out their faith, and it was evident in the way they loved others. Their actions were screaming to the world, “I belong to Jesus!”
What are your actions saying about you? Remember that people are talking, so why not give them something good to talk about? Live out your faith every day and let His love be seen in the way you love those around you.
How many Christians can honestly examine the way they live their lives and boldly promise that what you see on Sunday really is what you get the rest of the week?
My point? It’s easy to look, act, and sound like a believer at church. You are surrounded by people who are seeking God, worshiping Him, and encouraging you to be like Him. However, it’s a different story on Monday. The halls at school are filled with students who couldn’t care less about honoring God or living by biblical principles.
In today’s Scripture passage, Paul reminded Christians of some amazing truths: You have been chosen by God. He loves you. He has made you holy. Let that sink in.
You have been chosen, loved, and made holy by the God of the universe. That should blow your mind! Because of those truths, your actions should scream to the world, “I belong to Jesus!” Paul gives you the battle cry when he lists the character traits that should be evident in every area of your life: forgiveness, love, patience, gentleness, and humility. Sound easy? No, but it is completely possible.
Those character traits don’t happen overnight! You have to make a deliberate choice to spend time with God, to choose obedience, and to care about the things He cares about. Eventually, those character traits become a part of who you are. Then, you can boldly say, “What you see is what you get.”
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Colossians 3, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
Yet, Scripture is crystal clear on how we show love. If we want to know what real love looks like, we only have to look to Jesus.
Read John 15:11-13. Focus on verse 12.
Why does Jesus command His followers to love one another? Is it just an arbitrary rule that we need to follow, or is it deeply rooted in God’s character? Explain.
According to Jesus, what is the greatest form of love we can engage in?
What is particularly hard about the love to which Jesus calls us? Why?
What does it mean to lay down your life for others?
Have you had opportunities to lay down your life for others this week? Have you embraced them or turned your back on them?
What prevents you from showing this kind of love for others? Why?
The phrase “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is becoming a popular line in Christian circles. That phrase means all of your knowledge about God is irrelevant if you don’t show a deep concern or love for those around you. Hopefully you have realized this week that loving God and loving others are two sides of the same coin. One cannot be easily separated from the other. God wants us to love people the same way that He does: by sacrificing ourselves for their benefit and by thinking more about their needs than our own. The question is, do you?
Our society has only a vague idea of the notion of love. We apply it to everything from our new iPod® to our grandparents. In the case of Scripture, though, God has an incredibly specific portrait of love: God sent His Son into the world to die on our behalf.
Read 1 John 4:7-12, then read verse 7 again.
According to these verses, from where does the idea of love come?
If true love comes from God, what are its elements?
What do these verses teach you about how much God loves you?
What does it mean to say that God is love?
Does God only love lovable people? Why or why not?
How might this have an effect on how you treat those around you?
What opportunities will you take this week to show real love to those who are not particularly lovable?
Last week, I asked how you could identify a Christian. It’s not by our compelling preaching, our worship, or our programs. While all of these things can be useful tools, the real indicator of what we really believe is how we treat one another. That means that you are respectful, caring, self-sacrificing, and humble—and not just at church or when you think someone is watching. What do your actions tell others about God? Hopefully your actions and the way you treat others shows the world a little about the God you believe in, the God who is love.
Believe it or not, Jesus’ commands are pretty easy to summarize: Love God and love others. These are not separate things. Loving God means obeying Him. It means living as He created us to live. A necessary part of this is showing love toward others, because that’s exactly what God does! He loves people. But while the Christian message is easy to summarize, it is far harder to live out in the real world.
Read 1 John 3:21-24. Ponder verse 23.
Does verse 22 mean that God will just give me anything I want? What might “because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight” have to do with our receiving what we ask?
Why is it important that Jesus commands us to love others?
What are the major roadblocks you face in loving and trusting God?
What are the roadblocks you face in loving those around you?
We know that God lives in us by His Spirit. How do we know the Spirit lives in us? (See Gal. 5:22-23.)
How much of your life is a reflection of the fruit of the spirit? Are you loving, joyful, kind, and so forth?
It is difficult to take people seriously when they pretend that it is easy to love God and love others. It is far easier to talk about it than to do it. This does not give us an excuse though. Loving God and loving others is the absolute heart of the Christian life; it’s not just a nice idea or a pretty thought. It is a command of Christ to those who follow Him.
The closer we are to God, though, the easier it gets to see the world—and the people in it—the way that He does and begin to love them as we’re commanded. Getting close to God means spending time with Him. It means digging into Scripture. It means praying and listening and waiting. Draw close to God and ask Him to give you His eyes and open your heart. You may just be surprised at the love you begin to feel for others in this world!