Encouragement | House Rules
Monday— It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 25:24
“Oh man, Jed,” Charla murmured as she surveyed the one-room shack her brother had moved into. “This is…uh…this is not good. I know it’s not my business what goes on between you and Diane, but bro…was it bad enough for this?” Jed rubbed his face and sighed. “I know. I left a four-bedroom house I built myself to live in this dump. I hate it, but you know? For the first time today, I came home to peace. No one screamed at me. No one followed me all evening, complaining and criticizing. I used to dread pulling up in the driveway because I never knew what waited for me inside. This is a dump, but it’s a peaceful dump.”
God’s design for the home was that it be a place where every family member feels loved and valued. His blueprint was for a man and a woman who had committed their lives to each other welcoming the children He gave them. They become a team, with a common name and common values. Home is to be a place of refuge, but too often it is a place of fear and chaos. Sin has corrupted God’s design and sabotaged His plan for the home. If Mom and Dad were raised in dysfunction, they don’t know how to create anything different. So God gives us His word with instructions about how to reclaim our homes for His glory and our benefit. Ephesians 5-6 and Colossians 3 are starting places. When His word is the blueprint, a home becomes a refuge.
Final Thought: Is your home a place of refuge for everyone who lives there?
Prayer: Father, show me ways I can make my home a place of refuge. Am I hindered by the way I was raised? Am I bringing the same problems into my own home? Help me make your word the blueprint for my home. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
Jane had it all: loving husband, healthy children, good friends, good church. But it wasn’t enough. Insecurity and selfishness demanded that she seek validation in other men. When she could have been building her home, she tore it down.
Meg had nothing: husband left, kids had health issues, church closed its doors. But Meg set aside her own wants to serve her children and her neighbors. She started a Bible study in her home that soon became a church. She worked three jobs, but was home when the kids were, tucking them in bed every night. When she could have been destroying her home, she built it.
The American rat race insists that in good families the adults work constantly so they can cater to the kids’ every whim. Sports,
lessons, hobbies, friends, clubs, trips…no time for anything but run-run-run. In trying to build our homes, we often tear them down. Adults are stressed, kids are entitled, everyone is angry, and no one is grateful. If that sounds familiar, it might be time to consider some hard questions: Are we sacrificing relationships on the altar of busyness? Are we ignoring peace in favor of activity? Do we criticize rather than encourage? Is our home a refuge? The world doesn’t know any better, but when we surrender to Christ, we get to exit the world’s rat race. We don’t have to do things like the world does. We don’t have to live like it, love like it, or think like it. Neither should our homes copy it. Instead, God commands us to build up and not tear down.
Final Thought: Wise people build their homes; foolish people destroy theirs. Which are you doing?
Prayer: Father, help me evaluate my way of doing family. Does it please you? Are our activities ones you have chosen for us or are we trying to keep up with everyone else? Help me learn to build and not tear down my home. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— …they strengthened the believers…and encouraged them to continue in the faith…. Acts 14:22
Paul and Barnabas went from church to church encouraging and strengthening the believers. But what does that mean? How do you strengthen someone? How do we know when someone needs encouragement? Consider these scenarios:
*A runner is racing toward a drop off. Does he need encouragement to keep going or a warning to turn around?
*A student is excited about joining a cult. Does she need encouragement to continue or an intervention?
*An unmarried couple is moving in together. Do they need encouragement to continue or a warning from God?
Encouragement is helpful if a person is already going in the right direction. If not, it only hastens their downfall. Paul and Barnabas encouraged new believers to keep going in their pursuit of God. They strengthened their faith. Encouragement is not empty flattery. Telling your kid, “You’re the fastest runner in North America!” is a lie, not an encouragement. However, saying, “You’ll never run fast enough,” is disheartening. Encouragement says, “You’ve worked hard and I’m proud of you!” At home, we strengthen family members when we encourage them to pursue the calling God has given them. By praising the positive and discouraging the negative, we make our homes safe places to grow. A home should be a place of encouragement.
Final Thought: How encouraging and strengthening is your home?
Prayer: Father, I want to be an encourager, not an empty flatterer. I don’t want to encourage people in the wrong direction. Help me encourage and strengthen like Paul and Barnabas did. May I be a strengthener for my family. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— …Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace… 2 Corinthians 13:11
Notice that these are COMMANDS: Be joyful. Grow up. Be an encourager. Live in harmony and peace. Those aren’t character traits some people have and others don’t. Those are commands from the Lord for every person who claims to know Him. To better understand these commands, let’s consider their opposites. “Be grouchy and complaining. Insist on your right to be foolish and immature. Display your critical spirit. Create conflict and chaos.” That sounds like your coworkers and social media, doesn’t it? It also sounds like many of our homes. Let’s see how these commands would look at home:
The Abels: “Dad, I made a birdhouse!” cries Andy. “The walls are uneven,” growls Dad. “Mom, that boy I told you about doesn’t like me,” moans Ally. “Maybe if you’d lose some weight and stop slouching,” snaps Mom. “Why’d you make spaghetti! We hate spaghetti!” shriek both kids. “Shut up,” yells Dad. “Your mom’s a rotten cook, but eat it anyway.”
The Beakers: “Dad, I made a birdhouse!” cries Benji. “Good job, son. I’m proud of how hard you work,” says Dad. “Mom, that boy I told you about doesn’t like me,” moans Betty. “I’m sorry, honey. I know that hurts. He just doesn’t know what a sweet person you are,” comforts Mom. “Oh, spaghetti. Thanks for the supper, Mom,” say both kids. “Yeah, looks good,” smiles Dad.
In which house would you rather live?
Final Thought: Encouragers create an atmosphere of harmony and peace in their homes.
Prayer: Father, how well am I obeying these commands? Do I live them out at work and at home? Help me bring these commands to the forefront of my mind and practice living by them. May I be known as an encourager. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Our words are like bricks to those who are looking to us for validation. They can build a tower of strength or become a pile of rubble. The way husbands and wives use their words with each other creates the atmosphere for the home. When honest words have built them up, children are more likely to become strong towers. They enter their battlegrounds with strength and wisdom. However, others leave home with a pile of rubble. They’ve been told they are worthless, lazy, or stupid, so they enter the battlefield too weak to survive. The atmosphere of our homes can determine the strength with which we fight our battles.
Todd was raised by a poor, single mom, but he was told every day that God had given him gifts, talents, and a future if he would follow the Lord. He listened and became wise and successful. Jerry was raised in a dream home, two bio parents, and private school. But his parents were in competition with each other and the kids were in their way. Mom told him he was just like his angry father and Dad said he was like his materialistic mother, so he became both. Although his childhood home was three-storied brick, his heart was a pile of rubble. He had nothing but a credit card to face life’s battles and soon he was an alcoholic drop-out. When we use our words to build each other up, every believer can become a tower of strength.
Final Thought: Circumstances are not as life-defining as the atmosphere of our homes. What is your home’s atmosphere?
Prayer: Lord, help me evaluate the atmosphere of the home I’ve created. Is it pleasing to you? Is it a place of strength and godly encouragement? Would you feel at home there? Help me change what makes you uncomfortable. Amen