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Speak Love Revolution
By Annie F. Downs
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 Annie F. Downs
All rights reserved.
Your Words Matter
The tongue has the power of life and death.
The Bible can be so serious. Life and death, really? But it is true. I see that truth in my life ... Do you see it in yours? I can tell you story after story of how someone's words gave me life and how someone's words killed something in me.
As Christian gals trying to figure out this walk with God, we need to see how revolutionary our words can be. In Genesis 1:3, God spoke, and there was light. We are made in His image, so we have the power to create with our words too.
For years women have struggled to use their words to give life and deny the temptation to tear others down with what they say. My prayer for you is that after thirty days, you will revolt against that temptation and change the world ... one life-giving word at a time.
Your words matter, my friend. I can't wait to see you live it out.
Talk to God
Dear God, I'm stepping into this journey with an open mind and an open heart. I want to use my words for good. I really do. I recognize the power I have, so would You teach me how to use it? Make me more like You in these next thirty days. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You (Psalm 19:14).
For today, just listen to yourself. Don't judge yourself or edit what you say. Just listen. Hear how you use your words. Listen to the conversations where you are inclined to get snippy or mad. Listen to the people whom you find it easy to love with your words, and notice the ones who make it difficult.
Wanna tell your friends that you're embarking on a word revolution? Use the hashtag #SpeakLove on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Poor Eve. She was the first woman deceived by words—but not the last. God had said one thing, Satan said another ... and Eve fell for Satan's lies. The power of words changed everything for us. EVERYTHING. Sin entered the world, shame entered our world, and Jesus paid for it with His life.
Why start this devotional on such a bummer note? Because I want you to know that your struggle to know truth from lies and with words in general, is something you come by honestly.
It's hard to speak truth and love if your mind is full of lies. And Satan is the one who is always trying to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). It's time to stop listening to the lies so you can speak the truth.
I struggled with this so much as a teenager—my mind was full of lies ("You are so ugly," "No one really loves you," etc.), so I know what that's like.
But we have to choose truth. If Eve would have chosen the true words from God, imagine how different our lives would be.
Talk to God
God, please show me any lies I believe about myself that are keeping me from speaking truth. Reveal those to me. I want to speak truth and love into the world. Help me to hear and believe Your voice over the voices that try to deceive me.
Choose to believe God's truth today. Write the following verse on a note card and hang it on your bathroom mirror:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)
Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king."
It would take a ton of time to tell you the whole Esther story (but it is a good one, y'all, so you should read the whole book of Esther sometime). For our purposes, I just want to talk about her words. Here's the thing—the Bible is full of people who use their words well and those who don't. Queen Esther did it right—her words saved thousands of Jewish people.
She was brave with her words. Very brave. The very conversation she had with the king could have cost her life. Instead, God used her words to rescue other lives. Part of speaking life is knowing when to be brave with your words.
Want to be part of a word revolution? Be brave. Talk about Jesus to people who don't know Him. Say something nice to the girl who is always mean. Stand up for someone who's being bullied and stand by their side. Stop lies when you hear them with something as simple as, "That's not true." Ask your youth minister if y'all can go on a mission trip to a place that is outside your comfort zone. Tell your parents if a friend is cutting herself.
I promise you this—one teenage girl saying a brave thing can absolutely change the world. It could be you.
Talk to God
God, fill me with wisdom so I will know when to be brave with my words. Give me that extra ounce of courage when I need to say the brave thing. I want to do it. I want to be brave with my words. Just help me know when and how.
Say something brave today. You can do it. I know you can. Even if it is just saying "I love you" to your family or "I am a Christian" or "Thanks for letting me sit with you at lunch." You know the brave thing you need to do. Practice today.
Power in the Desert
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
There is so much to this story—so many topics we could talk about especially, because, you know, it's Jesus. But when we are thinking about using our words to create life, this story is another example of truth versus lies and how words can be life.
Jesus was faced (like face to face) with temptation from Satan. But Jesus stood up against the lies and spoke truth into the situation. Every time Satan offered something to Jesus, Jesus responded with a Scripture. Jesus didn't have a copy of the Bible right in front of Him—He knew the verses.
How cool is that? God wants us to use His words to defend against temptation. There have been times when the temptation to sin comes along and I literally can only stand up to it by reading Scripture out loud or singing worship songs or quoting a Bible verse I've memorized. Jesus proved that we can win against sin by using words well.
That's pretty awesome.
Talk to God
Dear God, thank You that your words stand up to lies and the temptation to sin. Fill my mind with Your words. Give me discipline to study the Bible and memorize Scripture. Thank You, Jesus, for being my example.
Practice memorizing our theme verse, Proverbs 12:18: "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." If you want to, post our memory verse on your Facebook page or Twitter or make a cool graphic for Instagram or Pinterest. Use the hashtag #SpeakLove at the end of your post. Then we'll all be able to see who is memorizing the Scripture at the same time.
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
Somehow, in the modern-girl psyche, there is this belief that if you tell someone all the secrets you know, that makes the two of you closer friends. So instead of keeping the confidences you've promised, you just tell one person, because after all, she is your "best friend." Within a matter of days, the secret that only you knew is all over the school or church or Internet. And what you thought would build your "best" friendship has actually just proven that you can't keep your mouth shut.
Exposing weaknesses. Criticizing, teasing, judging in whispers. Gossip tears others down—including you. Here's how gossip tricks us: we think that when we are talking about other people that it makes us closer with the other gossipers. But the real truth? If you are talking behind someone's back with a friend, that friend probably talks behind your back too. Ouch!
I want to be different. Don't you? I mean, I feel the pull as much as you do—to whisper the thing I've heard, to share the scoop. I am not so good at doing the right thing all the time. But I'm trying. I'm wrestling with it. I'm working at it. Wanna join me?
Talk to God
Dear God, I struggle with this. I want to fit in, I want to be in the know because it makes me feel like I have a place. I want to be a good friend; I don't want to be a gossip. But sometimes I don't even realize I'm gossiping. Will you turn on the alerts in my brain? I want to be a good friend whom others can trust.
How brave do you feel, my friend? Brave enough to stand up to gossip? I don't want to make you do something that costs you your friends (unless your friends are mean people), but if you hear gossip today, why don't you combat it by saying something nice about the victim of the gossip? Where others are trying to tear down, you toss in a sentence that will build up. Or simply walk away. In time, people will quit gossiping with you and around you. And that will be a good day.
Excerpted from Speak Love Revolution by Annie F. Downs. Copyright © 2013 Annie F. Downs. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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