The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Lay your hand upon your mouth.” Pr 30:32 AMP
Your tongue is just inches from your brain, but the way some of us rattle on you’d think our mouths and minds were miles apart! James says, “The tongue…corrupts the whole person” (Jas 3:5-6 NIV). Author Ramona Cramer Tucker writes: “I admit I’m a talker …I don’t set out to break a confidence, but somehow my mouth kicks into gear before my brain…But God takes a clear stand on gossip. He knows loose lips can ruin another person’s reputation, introduce mistrust into a relationship, encourage the gossiper to embellish their tale, and cause them to sin by being tempted to lie when confronted…I love to share news, to be ‘in the know,’ and because I’m wired this way it’s easy for me to spread gossip under the guise of being well-meaning, even prefacing my news with ‘I wish you’d pray for’…But just because my sharing is well-meant doesn’t mean it’s appropriate.” The most common reason for making someone else look bad—is to make ourselves look good! We are like the proud Pharisee in the temple who stood alone and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” (Lk 18:11 NCV). The writer of Proverbs says, “If you have done foolishly in exalting yourself, or…thought evil, lay your hand upon your mouth.” It’s one thing to think bad thoughts—it’s another to voice them. The saying goes: “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair!” So do yourself and everybody around you a favor—practice putting your brain in gear before engaging your mouth.
“Through love serve one another.” Gal 5:13 NKJV
The Bible says, “Through love serve one another.” In other words, “Get rid of the you-owe-me attitude and develop an IOU mindset.” Some of us think: (1) A lifetime job with good pay and a guaranteed retirement plan at sixty-five come with just being born. (2) Promotion is just a matter of time. (3) Forty hours a week is the maximum endurance for any worker. (4) The last hour of each day is there to make the transition to home easier. (5) A ten-minute coffee break should take at least half an hour. (6) A half-hour lunch break should take at least an hour and a half. (7) An equal share of company profits belongs to all workers regardless of their contribution. What gives us our sense of entitlement anyway? Part of it is found in the middle of the word entitlement itself: “title.” We think people “owe us” because of the title we hold in their lives: mother, daughter, brother, wife, husband, friend, donor, pastor, employee, boss, etc. We treat our title as if it were a title deed that gives us the right to whatever benefit we expect. But life doesn’t work that way! When the Prodigal Son left home and landed in a hog pen, the Bible says, “No one gave him anything” (Lk 15:16 NKJV). Humbled and slapped with reality, he became willing to work in the servants’ quarters of his father’s house. Fortunately, his father loved him and restored him. But the point is, life “owes you” nothing but an opportunity to study, work hard, grow, and sacrifice to get to where you want to be.
“Jesus…went around doing good.” Ac 10:38 NIV
Your value in God’s eyes was established at the cross. The Bible says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Ro 8:32 NIV). Notice the words “all things.” We are all equal in Christ, but when it comes to your career, your value is determined by the problem you solve. That’s why we pay a cardiologist more money than a short-order cook. Jesus was a problem solver. People were spiritually hungry so He said, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35). They were sick so He “went about doing good…healing all.” He discerned what He had that others needed, and provided it for them. What do you have to offer? What would you attempt to do if you knew it was impossible to fail? You are not here by accident. God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I [set you apart], and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer 1:5). Everything God makes is to meet a need and solve a problem. So what are you called and gifted to do? That’s where you’ll find your highest level of joy! Think of your contribution to others as an assignment from God. Paul made tents to support his ministry. So your ministry may be supported by your job. But whether you are in a full-time ministry or a part-time ministry, don’t leave this earth until you have found and fulfilled what God called you to do.
“If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.” Ro 12:8 NLT
Leadership in business, politics, and public service doesn’t automatically qualify you for leadership in church. J. Oswald Sanders says, “The overriding need of the church is for a leadership that’s authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial.” Let’s look at each of those qualities: (1) Authoritative leadership. People respect leaders who are certain about where they’re going, and inspire confidence in those who choose to follow them. Tentative leaders don’t motivate others to get on board and stay on board. Uncertainty confuses and disheartens followers. People follow, almost without question, someone who’s wise, strong, and faithful to what he or she believes. (2) Spiritual leadership. We’re attracted to leaders who are gifted and charismatic. But these natural characteristics alone won’t cut it. Followers can be captivated by human traits—often to their own cost. Don’t settle for being a popular “pied piper.” Godly leaders are committed to connecting their followers with Jesus, not with themselves! Do your people know, love, and serve God more because of your leadership? If so, you’re a godly leader. (3) Sacrificial leadership. Would you still lead if, like Paul, you were betrayed, falsely accused, beaten, half-drowned, starved, stoned, and left for dead? Godly leaders lead when it’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, unrewarding, and costly. They’re dedicated to the sheep they’re responsible for, and the “Chief Shepherd” they’re responsible to! They recognize that Jesus drafted and modeled the prototype of godly leadership at the cost of His own life: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1Pe 2:21 NIV).
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps 46:10
Observe: (1) Creative thinking usually begins when you’re in a crisis. Think about the Red Sea, the Battle of Jericho, and Goliath. Israel’s most spectacular victories came about when they were in seemingly impossible situations. That’s why God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Your Creator will give you creative ideas if you’re willing to be still in His presence and listen to Him. But that means interrupting your busy schedule, getting alone with Him, and waiting patiently until He speaks to you. And in an age of attention deficit disorder that’s not always easy. Your mind must become a blank slate and you must be willing to let God write on it. (2) Creative thinking can be a messy process. If you’re image-conscious, insecure, or a perfectionist by nature, you’ll need some serious reprogramming. Cartoonist Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert series, said, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” On your way to the best possible solution, you’ll have to entertain a lot of not-so-good ideas. Are you willing to do that? (3) Creative thinking is about “doing.” Jesus once healed some lepers, but their healing didn’t take place immediately. The Bible says, “As they went, they were [healed]” (Lk 17:14 NKJV). At first they may have thought, “Nothing’s happening. I still have leprosy.” But when they got to a certain point in their journey the miracle took place. You must be willing to step out in faith and try things in order to find what works and what doesn’t.