The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“He that believeth shall not make haste.” Isa 28:16
As twins go, Jacob and Esau were very different. But they quickly learned to negotiate. Have you ever watched children make a deal that favored one over the other? For example, one offers the other a candy bar in exchange for an expensive video game. Well, that same dynamic was at work between Jacob and Esau. Esau had been out hunting and came home exhausted and hungry. Nothing mattered to him except food—and certainly not something as remote as a future inheritance. In a moment of weakness he said, “I am about to die…what is this birthright to me…So…he…sold [it] to Jacob…[for] bread and stew” (Ge 25:32-34 NKJV). It was a decision Esau would live to regret, and couldn’t undo. Recovering addicts are taught the importance of observing their H.A.L.T. sign. When they’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, they’re in danger. And so are you! Acting on impulse will cause you to: (1) buy stuff you don’t need at prices you can’t afford; (2) react before you get all the facts, resulting in a loss of respect, opportunities and good relationships; (3) compromise your character for a few moments of sinful pleasure; (4) quit in the middle of the race, or worse, on the threshold of victory. The Bible says, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” When you make choices based on short-term gratification rather than life-long convictions and goals, you always lose out in the end. So don’t take the deal; don’t trade your God-given destiny for momentary gratification. Be patient and hold fast. When you do, God will bring your dreams to pass in ways that honor instead of diminishing them.
“Through love serve one another.” Gal 5:13 NKJV
In his book The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom writes: “I was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn’t used in over a year. I flipped the switch but wasn’t surprised when it gave no light. I unscrewed it and shook it to get the batteries out but they wouldn’t budge. Finally after some effort they came loose. What a mess! Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight. The batteries were new when I put them in and I’d stored them in a safe, warm place. But there was one problem. Those batteries weren’t made to be warm and comfortable. They were designed to be turned on—to be used. And it’s the same with us. We weren’t created to be warm, safe, and comfortable. You and I were made to be turned on.” You must constantly remind yourself that first and foremost you’re called to be God’s servant. That way, interruptions won’t frustrate you. “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good” (Gal 6:10 GWT). Be sensitive and spontaneous; otherwise great opportunities to serve God will pass you by. “Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now” (Pr 3:28 GNT). Look for small tasks nobody else wants to do, then do them as if they were great things—because God is recording it all. Make yourself available. Don’t fill your time with other pursuits that limit your availability. Be ready to jump into service at a moment’s notice. Allow God to change your plans without becoming resentful. As a servant, you don’t get to choose where you’ll serve. God does.
“Throw yourselves into the work of the Master.” 1Co 15:58 TM
Paul writes, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?…If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal 1:10 NIV). A true servant of God is content to work quietly in the shadows. They know that in heaven God will openly reward people we’ve never even heard of—people who taught emotionally disturbed children, cleaned up after the incontinent, nursed AIDS patients, and gave their lives in a thousand unnoticed ways. “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” During World War II, when England needed to increase its coal production, Winston Churchill called together labor leaders. He asked them to picture in their minds a victory parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war. First in line would be the sailors who kept the vital sea lanes open. After them would come the soldiers who returned from Dunkirk, then went on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Next would be the pilots who’d driven the Luftwaffe from the skies. Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miners’ caps. Someone would shout from the crowd, “And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?” And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, “We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.” Not all jobs are prominent and glamorous. But those who serve God with their “faces to the coal” play a vital role in fulfilling His purposes in the earth.
“If you think you are too important to help…you are only fooling yourself.” Gal 6:3 NLT
In his book Swim With the Sharks, leadership expert Harvey Mackay writes about Philip Pillsbury of the famous Pillsbury milling family: “The tips of three of his fingers were missing…the unmistakable mark of a journeyman grain miller, albeit a somewhat less-than-dexterous one. Philip Pillsbury had an international reputation as a connoisseur of fine foods…but to the troops his reputation as a man willing to do a hard, dirty job was the one that mattered…And you can be sure everyone was aware of it.” Following in the footsteps of Jesus calls for being service-oriented, not self-absorbed. Often the reason we don’t volunteer is because we think we can’t do it as well as somebody else. We’ve made the mistake of making excellence an idol by buying into the philosophy, “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all.” The fact is, less-than-perfect service is better than the best of intentions. If you’re not willing to do it imperfectly in the beginning, you’ll never get out of the starting gate. Almost everything we do is done poorly at first. That’s how we learn. God’s plan has always been to involve as many folks as possible, not have everything run by a few experts. The best of people make mistakes; it’s how you gain knowledge and develop character. The Bible says, “If you think you are too important to help…you are only fooling yourself.” Sometimes you’re called to serve upward to those in authority; other times you’re called to serve downward to those in need. Either way, you’re serving God only when you’re willing to do what’s required.
“Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.” Mk 10:43 NKJV
Pilate had an opportunity to acquit Jesus of any wrongdoing, but instead he called for a basin and washed his hands of the entire matter. His attitude was, “I’m not getting involved.” And a lot of people have that same attitude. But not Jesus. The night before His death He called for a basin of water and washed His disciples’ feet. He taught them: “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mk 10:43 NKJV). Peter objected because foot-washing was a duty designated to the lowest servant in Middle Eastern households, and he considered it beneath Christ’s dignity. Catherine Marshall writes: “‘We, the disciples, are to be the servants,’ I want to insist along with Peter. But Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me’ (Jn 13:8 NKJV). This is a stunning and stupendous thought. Unless I can believe in this much love for me, unless I can and will accept Him by faith as my servant as well as my God, unless I can truly know that it’s my good He seeks…then I cannot have His companionship.” This is so contrary to the world’s philosophy where everybody wants to lead and nobody wants to serve. But to be like Jesus is to be a servant, for that’s what He called Himself. Never have goals so lofty that they blind you to the needs of those around you. Without a servant’s heart, you’ll be tempted to use your gift for personal gain, or to exempt yourself from areas you consider beneath you. The truth is, the only way to serve God is by serving those He loves.