The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“The merciful…will be shown mercy.” Mt 5:7 NIV
The German philosopher Schopenhauer compared the human race to porcupines huddled together on a winter night: “The colder it gets outside, the more we huddle together for warmth. But the closer we get…the more we hurt one another with our sharp quills. And in the lonely night of earth’s winter, eventually we begin to drift apart and wander out on our own and freeze to death in our loneliness.” What’s the answer? “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (See Mt 6:12). President Ronald Reagan understood this. After an attempt on his life in 1981, his daughter Patti Davis said, “The following day my father said he knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive John Hinckley. By showing me that forgiveness is the key to everything, including physical health and healing, he gave me an example of Christ-like thinking.” Perhaps your wounds are old ones: an abusive parent, a cheating spouse, a business deal gone sour. Or maybe they’re still fresh: an overlooked promotion, an unpaid debt, kids who’ve forgotten you exist. Either way, you’ve a decision to make. Get over it, or get even. Let it heal, or turn to hate. Release it, or resent it. Resentment allows whatever’s eating you, to eat you up. It stokes the fire, fans the flames, and replays the pain. Think about it: has your resentment brought you relief? If today you stood by the grave of the one who hurt you, would you be free? It’s doubtful. “The merciful…will be shown mercy,” because they’ve experienced an even greater grace—God’s—and forgiveness is the key to understanding it.
“Why is this happening to me?” Ge 25:22 NIV
The Bible says: “The Lord answered [Isaac’s] prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger’” (vv. 21-23 NIV). Even when your vision is born of God, you’ll experience times of both faith and fear. You can have clarity in one area, yet experience confusion in another. What should you do when this happens? Do what Rebekah did: take it to the Lord in prayer. She asked, “Why is this happening to me?” Question: Are you experiencing fear and foreboding in the middle of your success? Are you wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Things are going well, so why am I anxious?” You’ve achieved some success and things are starting to come together after a long, hard struggle. But instead of feeling happy, you’re disappointed because you’re not experiencing the joy and fulfillment you expected; you’re actually worrying about what might go wrong in the future. In every success story you’ll find chapters of uncertainty. And when it happens you must bring your turmoil to the Lord. Ask Him for help with the inner conflict you’re experiencing, and to give you peace concerning the vision He’s given you. And remember—no matter what you achieve, its ability to satisfy you is limited. No amount of success can ever take God’s place in your life.
“Jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” Pr 14:30 NLT
Christian educator Henrietta Mears said, “The man who keeps busy helping the man below him, won’t have time to be jealous of the man above him.” Doctor Seuss wrote hundreds of children’s stories. One of his most famous is about the Grinch, a cartoon character who gets so jealous of others that he ends up biting himself. Jealousy does that. It targets others, but ends up consuming you. God blessed King Saul and lifted him from obscurity to the highest position in Israel. But when David slew Goliath and won the adulation of the people, Saul became insecure and threatened. Instead of rejoicing that God had sent David to help him, he grew resentful and became “David’s enemy from that time forward” (See 1Sa 18:9). The Bible says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” Jealousy is malignant; left unchecked it can destroy every relationship in your life. It poisons your attitude by making you compare yourself with others. It robs you of joy and contentment. You become ungrateful and self-centered. It makes you assume that God’s resources aren’t sufficient for Him to bless others and still bless you. Saul’s jealousy cost him his throne, his family, his respect in the eyes of the people, and ultimately his life. Don’t let jealousy do that to you. Repent before it robs you of your destiny. God made all of us His children when none of us deserved it. So when you feel resentful of somebody else’s blessings, ask God to remind you of the many ways in which He has blessed you even when you didn’t deserve it.
“The…Lord is my strength…he enables me to go on.” Hab 3:19 NIV
Are things in your life falling apart? Your finances look uncertain, the career you worked to build is floundering, your health is failing, the people you trusted have let you down. Nobody enjoys such times, but if you live long enough you’ll go through them. And they have a way of making you re-examine your responses. When the things the prophet Habakkuk counted on started to crumble, he was forced to discern between what’s truly important and what’s merely temporal. It’s a re-evaluation we all have to make at some point. Here’s what Habakkuk said: “Though the fig tree does not bud…there are no grapes on the vines…the olive crop fails…the fields produce no food…there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord…The Sovereign Lord is my strength…he enables me to go on” (vv. 17-19 NIV). Habakkuk realized he had no control over certain things. So he chose to control his response by rejoicing in the Lord regardless of what happened, and drawing from God the strength to “go on.” What can you learn from this man? That you have a choice! That you can decide to praise God regardless of the hand life deals you. God doesn’t promise to take you out of your situation; He promises to bring you through it. So change your response and begin to praise God for His faithfulness, for your salvation, for your health, for your friends and family, and all the other blessings He’s given you. If you look for reasons to rejoice, you’ll find them!
“Be…[a ready listener].” Jas 1:19 AMP
Talking instead of listening—will get you into trouble. Two geese were preparing to fly south when a frog asked if he could go along. They questioned how he could do it. “Easy,” he said. “You guys hold a stick between your beaks and I’ll hang on with my mouth.” Off they went as people looked up, admiring their teamwork. The trio was making great progress until somebody below shouted, “Great idea! Whose was it?” That’s when the frog opened his mouth and yelled, “Miiiiiiiine!” Every time you open your mouth there are consequences! So learn to listen. Plutarch said, “The talkative listen to no one, for they are ever speaking. And the first evil that attends those who know not how to be silent, is, that they hear nothing.” Listening without having to air your knowledge or interject your opinion is a quality of character that proves you’re mature. Larry King once said, “I remind myself every morning: nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” Jesus was a great listener, and as a result He attracted people like a magnet. Doubtless there were times He was tired and didn’t feel like it—but He listened anyway. When the disciples fussed among themselves, and the Pharisees grumbled and caused trouble, Jesus focused on the important things. He listened, He spoke, and people followed. Listening is often more effective than talking. In fact, there’s a point in every conversation where you need to say less and listen more. In those moments you not only hear what others are saying, but what God is saying to you!