The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“I am ready for anything.” Php 4:13 PHPS
There’s a spiritual disease you need to be inoculated against—hardening of the attitudes. It’s a disease that makes you think your opinion is the only right one. And as long as life cooperates with you, you’re fine. But when it doesn’t, you charge ahead from one brick wall into another, bruised and bloodied, until you quit in frustration. Then you start blaming others, life, the Devil, or God. Your faith may be well-intentioned, but faith without flexibility is just failure looming! Experienced kayakers know how to perform the “Eskimo roll.” It’s a technique that enables you to roll 360 degrees under the water and up again without drowning. It’s the strategy Paul used to overcome the challenges he faced in life. “I have learned the secret of living in every situation” (v. 12 NLT). He didn’t acquire it naturally, or learn it at a “flexibility seminar,” or get it from a guru. He learned it in the rough-and-tumble school of patience, persistence, humility, self-denial, dedication, and confidence in God. As a result he rolled with the punches of persecution, hunger, poverty, prison, and execution, never abdicating, while demonstrating how to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Php 4:4 NIV). When faith collides with reality, it flexes and holds on until victory emerges. It’s like a tree that bends in the storm, then bounces back. “I have learned…I am ready for anything through…the One who lives within me!” (Php 4:12-14 PHPS). So learn to roll with the punches!
“God places the lonely in families.” Ps 68:6 NLT
Life in God’s family can be challenging. To enjoy and fulfill your role as a family member you must understand three things: (1) Your rights. When you trusted Christ as your Savior you became a member of God’s redeemed family (See Jn 3:3-6). That means you have the right to be accepted, loved, protected, respected, provided for, trained, equipped, and rewarded. Regardless of your past mistakes, God guarantees you these rights, so embrace and enjoy them. (2) The rules of the house. Without the rule of law, you end up with anarchy. And it’s the same in a family. Can you imagine what would happen if the kids ran the house? Well, God’s family isn’t a democracy. You don’t get to vote on the rules. God has established unchanging principles in His Word that guarantee His blessing. “If you are…obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isa 1:19 NKJV). (3) Our responsibilities to one another. You’re called to accept, love and help your brothers and sisters even when they’re selfish, immature, critical, and irresponsible. Remember that God’s family is still “under construction,” but it’s way better than any other alternative! You need to participate in regular family life and activities. Early church believers met together “daily” (See Ac 2:46); as a result they survived all Satan’s attempts to destroy them. So support the life and mission of your church family with your tithes, talent, and time. Don’t just be a taker; “God loves a cheerful giver” (2Co 9:7 NIV).
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” Ro 15:7 NIV
Sometimes people don’t make it easy to accept them. They can be cranky, selfish, critical, irritating, dismissive, aggressive, and pompous. Sometimes you want to give them a piece of your mind; give them what they deserve—anything but acceptance. The command, “accept one another,” is inconvenient. And if Paul had stopped there we might dodge the directive by saying he obviously meant good, reasonable, acceptable people. Alas, he goes on, “just as Christ accepted you.” Were you good, reasonable, and acceptable? No, but He accepted you—flaws and all—and He still does! You say, “Somebody has to straighten these people out and require them to act right!” You mean like what Jesus required before He accepted you? Roman Christians had difficulty accepting their less experienced brothers, and Paul corrected them: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment…for God has accepted him” (Ro 14:1-3 NIV). Straightening people out isn’t our department; accepting them is. God calls us to accept messed-up, unspiritual, carnal, obnoxious, doctrinally misled, “just plain wrong” people. You don’t have to approve of, like, or agree with them, but accepting them isn’t optional. There’s no elite, privileged, insider class. We occupy level ground because of two realities: our sin and the cross! Jews and Gentiles despised each other, even after salvation. Each wanted the other to change and become like them. But Paul laid the axe to the root of that tree: “For Christ himself…reconciled both groups…by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death” (Eph 2:14-16 NLT). Our job is to accept people—and let God adjust them.
“All things are possible to him who believes.” Mk 9:23 NKJV
In order to access power, you have to go to the outlet and plug in to the source of it. That’s what happens when you pray in faith; you plug in to God’s power. Picture a boat trapped in mud and stuck on the bottom. If you can get it to the dock, you can repair it and send it back out to sea. The trouble is, you can’t move it. So what’s the answer? Bring in high-powered tugboats, connect steel cables to the sunken craft, and wait for the tide to rise. Are you getting the idea? When you feel so low that you can’t lift yourself up, tap into God’s power and let Him lift you up to the place where He can repair, restore, and recommission you. If you keep that picture in mind, you’ll never think about prayer the same way again. Instead of seeing it as an obligation, you’ll start seeing it as an awesome power that works for you in all circumstances of life. And you’ll see reading the Bible in a different light as well. Paul says, “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up” (Ac 20:32 NKJV). Your problems may be great, but the tide of God’s Spirit is greater, and if you let it, it’ll lift you out of your troubles. Will they suddenly vanish overnight? No, but you’ll be above them looking down instead of underneath them looking up. At that point you’ll be operating from a position of faith instead of a position of fear. It can happen for you. God can lift you up: “All things are possible to him who believes.”
“He will lift you up.” Jas 4:10 NKJV
The Bible says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” It works this way: when you try to exalt yourself God brings you down, but when you humble yourself in His sight He lifts you up. He does it because you’re His child and He loves you. You may feel like a nobody right now, but in God’s eyes you’re a somebody. Who but God could reach behind a hedge, find a Gypsy Smith and use him to win multitudes to Christ? Who but God could go to Old Comiskey Park in Chicago, find a baseball player called Billy Sunday and use him to impact the world? Who but God could look in a Galilean fishing boat and find Peter, call him, transform him, and use him to build the church? God loves to do things like that. And since He “does not show favoritism” (Ro 2:11 NIV) you’ve every right to believe He will do it for you too. The Bible says, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Pr 23:7). When that little voice inside you whispers, “You’ve no talent and you’ll never amount to anything in life,” that’s not God. It’s Satan—and the Bible says he’s a liar (Jn 8:44)! That’s why you need to tell him, “I don’t believe a word you’re saying. You can’t put me down because God is raising me up.” God’s plan for you was established long before you were born, and He hasn’t changed His mind. So you need to discover His plan, then make sure your feelings, thoughts, actions, and words line up with it.