The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“They did not respond to correction.” Jer 2:30 NIV
How do you respond to correction? By taking offense? By interpreting it as rejection? By getting defensive? By shooting the bearer of bad news and making sure they never get to you again? By keeping score and saying, “In comparison to what I’ve accomplished in life, you’ve done nothing”? By giving in to self-pity and thinking how hard your life is because people don’t understand or appreciate you? We need people who’ll be honest with us. Why? Because we’re too easily blindsided by our egos! When God sends somebody to correct you, it’s because He wants what’s best for you. His willingness to correct you actually demonstrates how much He cares for you. “If you are not disciplined…you are illegitimate children and not true sons” (Heb 12:8 NIV). So check your spiritual birth certificate! People who are open to correction generally exhibit these four qualities: (1) Vulnerability. When they’re wrong they’re capable of admitting it—even before they’re confronted. (2) Teachability. They’re willing to hear, quick to learn, and always open to counsel. (3) Availability. They don’t try to avoid you. (4) Honesty. They are committed to the truth regardless of how much it hurts. You say, “That’s a high standard.” You’re right! It’s a standard pride resists and fragile egos run from. There’s something in each of us that would rather look good than be good. So when God sends people into your life who love you enough to level with you—be open to them. Your personal growth and success depend on it.
“God intended it…to accomplish…the saving of many lives.” Ge 50:20 NIV
Here’s Joseph’s story in a nutshell: His brothers put him in a pit, his boss put him in a prison, but God put him on a throne. And here’s what we learn: (1) Your dream may work out differently from what you thought. As a boy Joseph dreamed of being in a position of power. But God had something better in mind: namely, the saving of a nation. What God has in mind for you will often exceed all your expectations, bless others, and promote His kingdom on the earth. (2) When it feels like you’re losing, you’re learning. When you experience unfair treatment and hardship, complaining doesn’t do any good. Plus, you’re not growing while you are grumbling! In every experience there’s a lesson, so glean it and move forward. When life knocks you down—just make sure it knocks you to your knees. (3) Seek divine promotion instead of self-promotion. Every time Joseph tried to promote himself it worked against him. Look what happened when he asked the royal cupbearer, who was his prison-mate, to recommend him to Pharaoh: “The chief cupbearer …did not remember Joseph” (Ge 40:23 NIV). Joseph learned the hard way that success comes from God, and that we must give Him the credit for it. Indeed, the only advancement that counts is the kind that comes from Him. So pray: “Lord, help me to see these difficulties as stepping stones to maturity. Give me patience to wait for the kind of promotion that comes from You. Help me to remember that I’m blessed for a reason—to bless others.”
“These little troubles are getting us ready.” 2Co 4:17 CEV
Everything Jesus did for His followers, the Holy Spirit does for you. Jesus taught; the Holy Spirit teaches us. Jesus healed; the Holy Spirit heals us. Jesus comforted; the Holy Spirit comforts us. Jesus sends us into new seasons, and He sends His Counselor with us. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit Who “will teach you everything and remind you of everything I have told you” (Jn 14:26 NLT). When change comes embrace it, don’t resist it. Change is not only a part of life, it’s a necessary part of God’s strategy for your life. To use us to change the world, He alters our assignments. Gideon the farmer became a general. Mary the peasant girl became the mother of Christ. Paul the rabbi became a world evangelist. God transitioned Joseph from a baby brother to an Egyptian prince. He changed David from a shepherd to a king. Peter wanted to fish the Sea of Galilee; Christ called him to lead the first church. God gives us our assignments. But what about painful changes that are hard to understand? It’s like your time in the womb: You are being developed for a greater time outside the womb. Inside the womb you had the ultimate comfort and security. But only outside the womb could you fulfill God’s purpose for your life. Your life in this world is simply to prepare you for your life in the next one. That’s why Paul wrote, “These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing.” Eternal glory—you can hardly imagine it!
“The Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything.” Jn 14:26 NLT
As a departing teacher might introduce the classroom to his or her replacement, so Jesus introduces us to the Holy Spirit. And what a ringing endorsement He gives Him! He calls the Holy Spirit His “representative.” The Holy Spirit within you comes in the name of Christ, with equal authority and identical power. How comforting it is to know that, when you’re entering a new season of life in which so many things will be different. This verse is translated in different ways. In The Message, the word “counselor” means “friend.” In the New King James Bible, He’s called “Helper.” In the Amplified Bible, He’s referred to as “Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby.” In the original Greek, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “parakletos,” a compound of two words: para, which means “alongside of,” and kletos, which means “one who’s designated to you.” The Holy Spirit has been assigned to come alongside you. He is the presence of Jesus with and in you. Can you see how the disciples needed this encouragement? It’s Thursday night before the crucifixion. By sunrise they will all have abandoned Him. Within twenty-four hours He will be hanging on the cross and their world will seem like it’s been turned upside down. But Jesus wants them to know: “You’ll never face the future without my help.” And neither will you. Wherever the journey leads, He will be there by your side. The songwriter said, “And He walks with me, and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
“He will give you another Counselor.” Jn 14:16 NIV
In the Bible, Solomon lists twenty-eight different seasons in life. Here they are: “A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace” (Ecc 3:2-8 NLT). God determines each of your life’s seasons. The Psalmist said, “My times are in thy hand” (Ps 31:15). So what should you do when you enter a new season of life? Reach for the Holy Spirit’s help because He’s a “Counselor.” Jesus told His disciples, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” When you need an advisor because you’re not sure what to do or which way to go, the Holy Spirit is available to guide you. That means you must be sensitive when He highlights a particular Scripture you’re reading, or plants a persistent thought or idea in your mind that won’t go away, or speaks to you through a friend. You’re not alone, unless you want to be. Just consult the “Counselor” within you.