The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“We do not wage war as the world does.” 2Co 10:3 NIV
During World War II, Allied bombers carried machine guns in the nose, under the belly, on top, and in the rear. B-17’s, better known as “flying fortresses,” carried thirteen .50 caliber machine guns. At one point scientists suggested the planes might actually be safer without them. Without the extra weight needed to operate the guns, they could fly faster and higher, increasing their odds of survival. The pilots, however, thought differently. They wouldn’t even consider embarking on a mission without guns to shoot back and defend themselves. With that thought in mind, Jon Walker says: “We make the same choice when it comes to fighting our own battles. God says we don’t need the guns…we can soar higher and faster with Him. ‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.’ The weapons he gives ‘have divine power to demolish strongholds’; we don’t need the ‘weapons of the world’ (2Co 10:3-4 NIV). But we say ‘No thanks’; we have to shoot back and defend ourselves with arsenals of angry words, demanding attitudes, manipulative maneuvers, excessive excuses, and bombs of blame. It takes courage to stop using weapons of the flesh, ‘take up the shield of faith,’ and arm ourselves with the weapons of God (Eph 6:16 NIV). It’s the kind of faith David showed when he [told] Goliath, ‘You come against me with sword and spear…but I come against you in the name of the Lord’ (1Sa 17:45 NIV). Stop fighting in your own strength and let God’s spiritual arsenal defend you; ‘He is a shield to those who take refuge in him’ (Pr 30:5 NIV).”
“God…will never give up on you.” 1Co 1:9 TM
Think being a Christian isn’t exciting? Check out these headlines. Man in desert discovers burning bush that can’t be extinguished. Sea opens and thousands walk through on dry land. Giant who threatened a nation killed by teen with slingshot. Jewish girl saves her people from destruction. Three young rebels survive blazing furnace. Man brought back from the dead after four days. City walls mysteriously fall. Preacher swallowed by giant fish and lives to tell about it. Prophet caught up to heaven in a fiery chariot. These aren’t from the tabloids; they’re from Scripture. Adventure means “exciting and dangerous undertakings.” When you embark on the spiritual adventure Paul mentions, you can expect God to test your faith in ways you never imagined. The Bible talks about those “who through faith conquered kingdoms…shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength” (Heb 11:33-34 NIV). John Eldredge says: “Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wildness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man…Moses doesn’t encounter the living God at the mall. He finds him in the deserts of Sinai…Deep in a man’s heart are fundamental questions that cannot be answered at the kitchen table…it’s fear that keeps [him] at home where things are neat and orderly and under his control.” When God wants to do something wonderful through you, He has to get you from where you are to where He is. How about it: Are you ready to embark on a spiritual adventure with God?
“Let us not love with words…but…actions.” 1Jn 3:18 NIV
We must care about people’s spiritual and practical needs. It’s hard for someone to grasp the concept of God’s love when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or where they’ll sleep tonight. Food pantries worldwide are seeing a dramatic upsurge in emergency requests. Volunteer Cindy Crosby writes: “Each client is as different as the patterns in a kaleidoscope: retirees, the mentally ill, single mothers, young men fallen on hard times…And not everyone is grateful. Some are angry…some refuse eye contact…some leave without saying more than a few words…If you volunteer just to feel good about yourself, you’ll give up. Lofty ideals shatter like stained glass pelted by rocks…It’s the success stories that stick…The refugee mother whose son went on to Harvard on a scholarship…the woman who thanked me more times than I could count…the mother of six who showed palpable relief because that month she could feed her family…I remember Jesus’ words, ‘I was hungry…you gave me something to eat…I was a stranger…you invited me in’ (Mt 25:35 NIV). Now when I think of hunger, I see faces. And that has made all the difference.” It’s easier to love in theory than reality, especially when it comes to people who are difficult or different. But genuine love isn’t defined by what feels good or bad; God already set the standard. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?…Let us not love with words…but…actions” (1Jn 3:17-18 NIV).
“Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself.” Ro 12:3 PHPS
Here are two more examples of mind management. A thought knocks on the door of your mind and says, “You’re so wonderful the world is lucky to have you.” Typically it’s the kind of thought you’d welcome, but you don’t do things the typical way. You submit it to the authority of Christ, and as you unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit, His Word, you learn that pride doesn’t please God. “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself.” As much as you’d like to embrace an exalted image of yourself, you can’t. You only allow what Christ allows. Here’s another example. This time it’s temptation. If you’re a male, the thought comes in a low-cut red dress. If you’re a female, it comes in the form of the hunk you’ve always admired. Temptation whispers, “It’s all right, you’re both consenting adults.” If you aren’t under Christ’s authority you throw open the door, but if you are you say, “Not so fast.” Then you take this steamy thought before Jesus and ask, “Yes or no?” And nowhere does He answer more clearly than 1Co 6&7: “We must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever…Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them” (1Co 6:15-16; 7:1-3 TM). Now, armed with the opinion of Christ and the Sword of the Spirit, what do you do? Unless the tempter or temptress is your spouse—you slam the door shut. End of story!
“For we are God’s workmanship.” Eph 2:10 NIV
Your mind is the doorway to your heart, and when a questionable thought arises, you always have a choice. You can throw the door open and let it in, or do what the Bible says: “Fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ” (2Co 10:5 PHPS). In other words, capture the thought before it captures you. Let’s say a thought regarding your self-worth arises and says, “You’ve been a loser all your life. You’ve blown relationships and jobs and ambitions. You might as well write ‘loser’ on your résumé, for that’s what you are.” The average person would say to that thought, “You’re right; come on in.” But you’re not the average person! You’re a new creation in Christ, led by His Spirit. So rather than let the thought in, take it captive, present it to the Lord and say, “Jesus, this thought says I’m a loser and I’ll never amount to anything. What do You think?” See what you’re doing? You’re submitting that thought to the authority of Jesus. If He agrees with it, then let it in. If not, kick it to the curb! How do you know if He agrees or disagrees? Open your Bible and find out what God says about you. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Or how about this one? “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1 NIV). Any thought that doesn’t line up with God’s Word doesn’t pass the test—and doesn’t gain entrance. That’s how you manage your mind!