The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Jas 1:22
Why does the Bible say, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only”? Because hearing without doing becomes boring—every time. You can get to the place where you’ve heard so much preaching and teaching that you say to yourself, “Oh no, not another sermon!” The problem isn’t the Word; it’s that you’ve become oversaturated and spiritually numb. You’re bored because you aren’t putting it into practice and reaping the rewards of what you’ve heard. Jesus said, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (Jn 13:17). Once you start doing what you’ve been told to do, you won’t have time to be bored. The phrase “hearers only” is from the Greek noun akroates. Today we’d use it to describe students who audit a class instead of taking it for credit. These folks weren’t interested in learning, passing exams, earning a degree and going out to make a difference in the world. They were there because they found it intellectually stimulating, and they loved the excitement of being with the crowd. Often they followed their favorite teacher from one town to another; they loved new speakers, and when the class ended they’d get together to eat, drink, laugh, and discuss what they’d heard. Mostly, they just wanted to look knowledgeable in each other’s eyes. Don’t let that happen to you. “Remember…knowing what is right to do and…not doing it is sin” (Jas 4:17 TLB). Open your heart to the truths you’ve heard preached and begin to put them to work in your life. When you do, rest assured you’ll never again suffer from spiritual boredom.
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Eph 4:26 NLT
Uncontrolled anger is like jumping into your car, gunning the engine, and discovering too late that the brakes don’t work. The Bible says, “Don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life” (vv. 26-27 TM). Did you get that? Uncontrolled anger opens the door to Satan—and it’s all downhill from there! So before you say something you’ll regret and can’t take back, ask yourself: (1) Is the relief I’ll get from venting worth the aftermath? The Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Pr 15:1 NIV). By sounding off, you run the risk of making the finest speech you’ll ever regret. By its very nature anger encourages exaggeration, and makes you say things you can’t retract. Long after you’ve moved on, harsh words maintain their power to wound and divide. (2) Is it really worth dragging other people into it? Anger inevitably affects those around you, because it’s human to want to take sides, even if you’ve “no dog in the fight.” Involving other people is usually a way to feed your ego and justify bad behavior. Don’t do it. (3) Is my anger appropriate? Anger over ignorance and injustice has always led to progress. But it’s easy to let small stuff like thoughtless comments and cranky kids make you overreact. For anger to have a healthy result it needs to be measured and constructive. Paul says, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Ro 8:6 NIV). It comes down to a control issue, and a controlled response is a Christlike response. It always wins.
“Defend the cause of the fatherless.” Isa 1:17 NIV
In her book Mothers and Sons, Jean Lush talks about the challenge single mothers face in raising sons. Ages four to six are especially important and difficult. A boy at that age still loves his mother, but feels the need to gravitate toward a masculine image. If he has a father in the home, he’ll want to spend more time with his dad apart from his mother and sisters. So what advice can be given to a mother who’s raising a son alone? First, she must understand he has needs that she’s not best equipped to meet. Her best option is to recruit a man who can act as a role model to her son. Of course, good mentors can be difficult to find. Single mothers should consider friends, relatives, or neighbors who can offer as little as an hour or two a month. Single mothers who belong to a church should be able to find support for their boys among the male members. Scripture commands people of faith to care for children without fathers: “Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Jesus took boys and girls on His lap and said, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” (Mt 18:5 NIV). If you are a man and you have been asking God to use you in His service, this could be a real ministry opportunity for you. Think of the incredible potential of one small boy, and the privilege of helping to mold him into a man of God who fulfills the purposes of God during his lifetime. What a privilege!
“I come…in the name of the Lord.” 1Sa 17:45 NKJV
To bring down the “Goliath” in your life, here are three things you must do: (1) You must stand up to him! Any problem you try to excuse or escape, you empower. After listening to Goliath’s threats every day, fear gripped the hearts of God’s people and they couldn’t stand up to him. (2) You must remember what God has already done for you. David recalled his victories over the lion and the bear. And you must do the same. Jeremiah said, “This I call to mind…therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (La 3:21-23 NIV). The strength to deal with today’s struggles comes from remembering how God helped you solve yesterday’s struggles. (3) You must cut off the giant’s head. “David…took his sword…and cut off his head…And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled” (1Sa 17:51 NKJV). You need to know your enemy, study his tactics, and be willing to fight with the same level of intensity as he does. You must take what you learn and apply it to his weak areas. And never assume he’s dead when he’s just dazed. If you don’t cut off his head he’ll sneak up on you another day. Go for a permanent solution, not a short-term fix. Fortify yourself with prayer, renew your mind with the Word of God, and reach for the support that’s available to you through your spiritual family. Above all, remember your strength doesn’t lie in yourself, but in God. With Him on your side you’ll win every time.
“Who are you to judge your neighbor?” Jas 4:12 NIV
Nobody wants to spend time with someone who monopolizes the conversation by updating them on their top-ten-people-to-criticize list. Staying home and watching old movie reruns is more appealing than going to that kind of party! It’s a hard truth to hear, but the people you need most are the ones who’ll avoid you when you become known as a faultfinder. Sometimes criticism is inadvertent; on a better day, led by God’s Spirit and focused on what’s positive, you’d never say such things. Notice what Aaron said: “We have acted foolishly” (Nu 12:11 NAS). He didn’t try to defend his position by saying, “Yes, Moses did marry the wrong person,” or “We deserve more of the limelight.” No, he realized his mistake, repented, and retreated from it. And you must do that too. Why? Because criticism blocks the flow of God’s blessing in your life! Oswald Chambers wrote, “Whenever you’re in a critical temper, it’s impossible to enter into communion with God.” Stop and ask yourself: “Is the momentary relief I get from criticizing others worth losing my sense of God’s presence?” To regain that sense of His presence you need to confess and forsake your critical attitude, then replace it with a more gracious and loving one. Today, get down on your knees and pray: “Lord, forgive me for thinking my perspective is always right. I acknowledge that as arrogance. Give me grace in dealing with others—the same grace I’ve received from You. Help me to accept our differences and not demand that everyone see things exactly as I do. Give me victory over my critical attitude. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”