May 19, 2004
Encouragement for Today
 
An Encouraging Word
Marie Ogram, speaker team
Ministry Coordinator
 
Key Verse:
 
Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
 

Devotion:
 
Social Studies had never been one of my favorite classes until the 8th grade.  That particular year students were given an opportunity to learn by spending two 12-week periods working as a volunteer in various places around the community.  One of my 12-week periods was spent at a local nursing home just a few miles from the middle school I attended.  Here I learned my first real lesson on an encouraging word.
 
My "job" as the assistant activities' director consisted of planning games and events and setting up the necessary materials.  Inviting the residents down to the activity hall was an integral part of my "job". Slowly as I learned the names of the people and their routines, I became more comfortable visiting their different rooms.
 
I enjoyed reminding the residents that activity-time would soon begin.  Men and women were encouraged to join in the many events from which they were able to choose.  Most people that were able-bodied participated at least 2-3 days per week.  It was almost mandatory.
 
Eunice was an exception to the rule. Each time I visited her room with a gentle reminder and invited her to join the other residents, she would politely decline.  She was a dear, frail, sweet lady with the most beautiful silver-blue hair I had ever seen and was always poised with a precious smile.  After several weeks of not seeing her ever leave the room she now called home, I asked the nurses to tell me about her. They said she had not left her room by choice in months.
 
I decided to ask Eunice directly why she wouldn't join in.  In a timid whisper-like voice she explained that everyone would laugh at her.  You see she had to wear very thick support stockings because of her poor circulation.  She just knew that her legs would be the center of everyone's attention.  My heart began to ache as I listened to her tell of her self-perceived handicap. She was truly in bondage to what others would say negatively about her.
 
After sitting with her for quite some time, I encased her hand within mine and looked deep into her eyes.  I told her that she was dearly loved and that people would not make fun of her.  I shared that there were many good people who lived right down the hall from her that needed a friend.  Reluctantly she walked with me down to the activity room. After much hesitation, she began to become a regular at many of the scheduled events.  Not once did anyone make any unkind comments to her. 
 
Eunice had been afraid of others' biting words but had only been met with encouraging ones.  Even the fear of hearing negative words can keep people from joining in and prevent relationships from forming.  How incredibly important kind words can be.  They can make the difference between someone thriving, just existing or withering.
 

My Prayer for Today

Dear Lord may my words be a song to Your ears.  Please guide me in measuring each word that comes out of my mouth so that others may see You in and through me.
 

Application Steps

Journal a time that someone encouraged you with her words and how it made you feel.  Also journal a time when you were discouraged by unkind words and how that made you feel.
 

Reflection Points:  
 
Thank someone that has truly lifted you up with his/her words.  
 
Whom has God placed in your path that needs encouragement today?
 
Look for ways to encourage others when they especially need it.
 
From whom do you need to ask forgiveness for your unkind words?
 

Power Verses:
 
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)
 
Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. (NIV)
 
Proverbs 15:7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. (NIV)
 
Proverbs 15:4 The tongue that brings healing is a treat of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (NIV)
 
James 3:5-6 The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (NIV)
 
 
Additional Resources:
 
P31 Woman magazine
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/p31woman.html
 
You are Special tape set Mary Southerland
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/specialset.html