The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt 22:39 NIV
God loves you so much that He gave His only Son to save you. “Save me from what?” you ask: (1) Going through this life lost, directionless, joyless, and unfulfilled. (2) Spending the next life lost and without the joys of heaven He wants you to share. That’s how highly God values you. So when you keep putting yourself down, you’re rejecting His opinion of you. And to disagree with God is to make yourself equal with Him, or worse, put your opinion above His. Maybe you never thought about it like that before. Actress/singer Ethel Waters ministered to great crowds in the Billy Graham crusades. She was born black and poor in a segregated society, but when she found Christ she gained true self-esteem. With a smile that would melt your heart, she told her audiences, “God made me—and my God don’t make no junk!” When you refuse to love yourself, it’s impossible to love others or accept that they love you. You become skilled at tuning out compliments and picking up on criticism, because it confirms the negative opinion you have of yourself. As a result, you distance yourself from people and end up lonely without ever knowing why. Maybe your parents failed you, or your spouse betrayed you. You may feel like “damaged goods,” and seek escape in addictions, or affairs, or a lifestyle of ritual accomplishment. But it doesn’t work. Only when you accept that God loves you unconditionally, and decide to love yourself, will you have love to give to others.
“Without Me you can do nothing.” Jn 15:5 NKJV
We think that if we have enough willpower, we can fight off every temptation that comes our way. And sometimes it works. Here’s the problem, however. Willpower is your best friend when things go well, but often the first friend to check out when you get weary. When you don’t want to do something, your carnal mind will give you plenty of reasons why you don’t have to. Your emotions will even join in and say, “I agree, because I don’t feel like doing it anyway.” Your mind, will, and emotions would love to run your life, but the Bible says you’re to be led by God’s Spirit. “Walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16 AMP). Willpower and discipline are necessary to a successful life, but willpower alone won’t be enough. Determination may get you started and keep you going for a while, but it’s never enough to bring you across the finish line. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zec 4:6 NKJV). What happens when instead of turning first to willpower, you turn to God? He releases His power into your willpower and energizes it to bring you across the finish line. That way willpower doesn’t get the credit for your success, God does. That’s why Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” This is one of the most important and difficult lessons you must learn if you want to enjoy the life Jesus died to give you.
“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” Pr 29:11 NKJV
Honesty and good communication are the foundation stones for a healthy relationship. This is particularly so in marriage. But any good idea can be misused. For example, it’s honest for a man to tell his wife that he doesn’t care for the way she cooks. It’s honest for a woman to express anger over her husband’s shortcomings. But honesty that does not have the best interest of the other person at heart is cruel, and a form of selfishness. This is especially so when the other person can’t do anything about it. Some couples, in their determination to share every thought and opinion, destroy the sweet spark of romance that drew them together. No longer is there any sense of magic. They’ve unraveled the romantic allure that first attracted them to one another. Your spouse is the person you chose to marry. So if you didn’t do your homework up front, don’t complain when you don’t like the test results. Peter writes, “Continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1Pe 4:8 NLT). Paul writes: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1Co 13:4-7 NLT). When you practice these virtues, you’re guaranteed a happy marriage.
“We saw the giants…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.” Nu 13:33 NKJV
Wherever you go, you take your mentality with you. After four hundred years as captives in Egypt, the Israelites developed a slave mentality. Because they were dominated for so long, they never learned to be decision makers. They functioned best when other people told them what to do. Consequently when they approached the Promised Land and their leader sent twelve spies in to check it out, ten came back saying, “The inhabitants of the land are giants. We are like grasshoppers compared to them.” But two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, knew God was with them so they reported, “The inhabitants of the land are like grasshoppers to us. We are well able to overcome them” (See v. 30). Joshua and Caleb developed the capacity to see things from God’s vantage point. It spelled the difference between success and failure—and this one secret will change your world. You learn to “mount up with wings” like an eagle (Is 40:31) and see every situation from a higher viewpoint: through God’s eyes! You stop looking at the Devil’s picture of defeat and focus on God’s portrait of success. This is your ticket to the Promised Land! Start speaking what you desire—not what you dread (See Ps 107:2). Speak your expectations—not your fears. This isn’t mind-over-matter or pop psychology. It’s standing on God’s Word declaring, “I am what God says I am…I have what God says I have…and I can do what God says I can do!” (See Php 4:13).
“We can come before God…without fear.” Eph 3:12 NCV
Dr. James Kennedy said: “I read an interesting book by an unbeliever who attempted to ‘do in’ the Christian faith. Despite his lack of belief, I found…something he said [insightful] regarding prayer. He called it ‘the most incredible conceit in the history of mankind,’ arguing that if you worked for General Motors as a lowly employee and wanted to see the boss, you wouldn’t have the remotest chance…Think about it. What would happen if a citizen tried to speak to the President of the United States? I’ve thought about putting in a call just to see…I’d probably speak to a secretary or an assistant to somebody, but not likely the President…‘And so,’ says my skeptical friend in his book, ‘what an incredible conceit to suppose that at any moment we can talk to the boss of the whole shebang.’ And indeed the concept of prayer would be an incredible conceit…if it weren’t true. But it is…and it’s the most incredible condescension on the part of a gracious God. You could probably never speak to the highly placed people in this world, yet the most highly placed person in the universe—‘the boss of the whole shebang’—waits patiently to hear what you have to say. ‘We can come before God with freedom and without fear… through faith in Christ.’ Don’t you find that amazing? This day…You can talk to the boss, tell Him your worries and cares, share with Him your triumphs and joys—and He always has time to listen.” Prayer gives you access to God!