The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not whole-heartedly.”
2Ch 25:2 NLT
King Amaziah did all the right things, but he wasn’t “wholehearted” about it. You can do the right thing and still not be blessed. Why? Because you did it with the wrong attitude. Take, for example, the subject of giving. The apostle Paul writes: “I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, ‘He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.’ This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing…great praise to God” (2Co 9:6-11 TM). Note two things: (1) Your level of giving determines the level at which you receive. (2) Your attitude in giving determines your abundance in receiving. So when you “make up your…mind what you will give,” consider God’s goodness to you, decide what you should give, and do it with a heart of joy. It’s all about attitude!
“Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” Ne 4:17 NIV
Do you know how Nehemiah’s team rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem? With a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Why is that significant? Because even though God gives you the plan, chances are you’ll have to fight for it. Not everyone wants you to succeed. In fact, some will do everything they can to stop you. That’s when you must constantly remind yourself that God gave you the plan, that He’s on your side, and that if you’re willing to persevere you’ll win. God guarantees it! Listen to what Nehemiah’s enemies said about him: “It is reported…you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king” (Ne 6:6-7 NIV). Nehemiah had to overcome threats and intimidation. He wrote: “They were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: ‘I’m carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to go down to you?’” (Ne 6:2-3 NIV). Every minute devoted to your critics is time stolen from your God-given assignment. Don’t step down to their level! It’s not what your enemies say that matters, it’s what you say to yourself when your enemies get through talking. “[Nehemiah] answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success…but as for you, you will have no share in Jerusalem or any claim…to it’” (Ne 2:20 NIV). Now that’s the winning attitude.
“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant.” Ne 1:11 NIV
You must ask God for the plan. Why? Because the only plan He will bless is the one He gives you. Every good idea isn’t necessarily a God-idea. The Bible says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Pr 19:21 NIV). How will you know your plan lines up with God’s plan, especially when you encounter obstacles and opposition? In two ways: (1) A fire will burn within you. Jeremiah said, “His word is in my heart like a fire…shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jer 20:9 NIV). When God places a burning desire within you, He will enable you to rise above the adverse circumstances that surround you. You’ll find yourself drawn, driven, directed, and dedicated. You may not always be able to explain it to others, but you’ll “know in your knower” that you are in the will of God. (2) God will show you the right path to take. “Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isa 42:16 NIV). Note the words “unfamiliar paths…darkness…rough places,” but don’t be thrown or discouraged by them. Instead, expect them! David said, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever” (Ps 138:8 NLT). And David’s God is your God—He hasn’t changed one iota!
“They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.”
Ne 2:18 NIV
It’s said that of all the people who have dreams, only one out of ten will fulfill theirs. Why? Because the other nine never started! To enter the Promised Land, Israel had to cross the Jordan River at flood stage. And they were afraid. But God said, “When you step into the water it will roll back” (See Jos 3). It did, and they reached their destiny. So, what are you waiting for? (1) Perfect conditions? You’ll never find them. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecc 11:4 NIV). The New Living Bible translation says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” You say, “I’m waiting for God to move.” Has it occurred to you that maybe He’s waiting for you to move? (2) Everybody to agree with you? When David announced his intention to fight Goliath, his older brother Eliab, a general in King Saul’s army, told him to go back home because he was embarrassing the family. But David refused to be put off or put down. Instead, he went out and defeated the giant. And with God’s help you can too! (3) Until you feel “qualified”? God doesn’t always call the qualified, but He always qualifies the called. Regardless of your education, nationality, or gender, God can use you. Oliver Wendell Holmes started studying Greek at eighty. When a friend asked him why, he replied, “Frankly, it’s now or never!” Because Nehemiah was willing to start, God gave him a glorious finish. And He will do the same for you. So what are you waiting for? Get moving!
“If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight.” Ne 2:5 NIV
Pray for favor with the right people. When you study the lives of successful people, you’ll find they had vision, patience, determination, character, and talent. And you’ll also find one more thing at work—favor. There are some closed doors that will open when you approach them in faith, and there are other doors that’ll open only with help from the right people. That’s when you need favor! Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had a picture in his office. It was of a turtle sitting on top of an eight-foot-high fencepost, and the caption read, “You can be sure he didn’t get up there by himself.” Nehemiah needed an army to protect him, and resources to enable him to build. So he prayed, then went to the one man who could provide what he needed: the king. He said, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” And the king did. There’s an important lesson here: When your heart is set on promoting God’s kingdom, He will give you “kingdom connections.” But be careful; your help may not always come via the people you expect, agree with, or even like. God used a heathen king to help Nehemiah, and He used a penniless widow to feed the prophet Elijah. Don’t dictate to God who He can and cannot use. Just pray for favor, expect it, and accept it with thanks in whatever form He sends it.