The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Ps 90:12 NLT
The story’s told of a guy who went to heaven and met St. Peter. Peter said, “Tell me what good things you did in your lifetime.” The guy replied, “Well, a gang of Hell’s Angels was beating up an old lady and stealing her purse, so I rushed in and saved her.” Peter said, “When did this happen?” The guy answered, “About one minute ago.” Seriously, unless Jesus comes back you are going to die. The Psalmist wrote, “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty” (v. 10 NLT). Let’s say you’re sixty, and you live to be eighty. That’s two hundred and forty months! When you begin to think that way, time becomes a precious commodity and a limited resource, and you get serious about making every day count. Each time you say, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow,” you’ve lost another day you can never get back. Here are some questions you need to think about. Have you discovered God’s will for your life and devoted yourself to fulfilling it? If not, why not? Understand these three things: (1) God scheduled the date of your arrival on earth. “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Ps 139:16 NLT). (2) God has laid out a track for you to run on. “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Heb 12:1 NLT). (3) God will reward you for how you’ve lived (See 1Co 3:14-15). So make every day count!
“The Lord make his face shine upon you.” Nu 6:25 NIV
When you study the life of Christ you realize that for Him prayer wasn’t an energy drainer, but an energy giver. And it can be the same for you when you come to see God’s face shining upon you as you talk with Him in prayer. When you’re with a critic who wants to argue, you lose energy. But when you meet with your best friend, you gain energy, and Jesus said, “I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15). Have you ever noticed how people in love sometimes speak to each other in baby talk? It’s immensely intimate and private—and it’s off-putting to a third party. But we do it because it is the tenderest language we know. Jesus’ prayer life demonstrated this intimacy. He called God “Abba,” an Aramaic word much like “da da” or “mama.” (Jesus spoke in Aramaic, and some portions of the New Testament are written in Aramaic rather than Greek.) “Abba” was a Jewish child’s first word, because it was so easy to say. Somehow when Jesus was with God, the tender love that an adult offers to a child to give him strength is what He received from His Father. And you can have that same experience. It’s why Paul wrote: “You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we are his heirs” (Ro 8:15-17 NLT). Your highest goal in prayer should be intimacy with God.
“Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” Ps 27:8
We get a remarkable picture of what can happen in prayer when we watch a parent and a little child. Imagine a one-year-old who looks at you and holds his gaze. You’re charmed. He looks shyly at first, tilting his head away and looking out of the corner of his eye. You do the same. It’s fun. He turns his face to look directly at you. You mirror the turn. Then there’s a sudden noise behind him, and he looks startled—you mirror his surprised look. He’s so startled that he’s getting ready to cry, so you shift to a smile. He does the same, and he’s soon gurgling with joy. When a child makes eye contact like this, when someone lets him know that they understand what he’s feeling, his brain and nervous system make crucial connections inside his body. He is experiencing what’s called “neural integration.” By playing the face game, you’re literally giving the child peace. It heals him. He finds delight in your presence. And prayer works like that too. In the Old Testament God instructed Moses to give the Israelites the following blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Nu 6:24-26 NIV). In prayer we speak about “seeking God’s face.” That means sometimes prayer is about speaking, other times it’s about listening. But there’s a third ingredient. It’s the security that comes from sensing God’s smile of love and approval.
“I have betrothed you to…Christ.” 2Co 11:2 NKJV
In Bible days betrothal meant much more than engagement; it was part of the marriage ritual. As soon as a couple was betrothed, they were considered to be one. But the marriage wasn’t consummated for a year or more. During that time the groom would build their new home and continue courting his bride, getting to know her and allowing her to know him. And the bride would prepare herself by learning everything she could about her future husband so that she could please him in all respects. Finally the groom brought his bride to their new home and they began to live as husband and wife. So what’s the point of this illustration? Simply this: The church is the bride of Christ, and we should be longing for the time when our union with Him will be consummated and we’ll partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven (See Rev 19:7). Until then Jesus is fulfilling His part by preparing a place for us, praying and interceding on our behalf, continuing to woo us, to lavish His love upon us, and to bring us into “the knowledge of [Him]” (Eph 4:13). And what’s our part? Remembering that how we live our lives reflects on Him. No man wants his wife running around writing bad checks, engaging in lewd conversation, getting drunk in public, or flirting with other men. He wants her to refrain from those behaviors because he loves her and wants her reputation to be good. He wants his wife to be a good reflection on him and their family. In other words, your betrothal to Christ demands that you no longer live for yourself—but for Him!
“I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Ac 24:16 NKJV
When you go through a metal detector in an airport you are required by law to take everything out of your pockets. If you don’t, you set off an alarm. And if you try to hide a gun or a knife, you will probably end up in prison. Your conscience works the same way. When you knowingly do wrong, the Holy Spirit who lives within you will trigger your conscience and an alarm will go off inside you. If you’re wise, you’ll repent of your sin and make things right. Why? Because your alternatives aren’t good! “Having faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1Ti 1:19 NKJV). Think of the word “shipwreck,” then picture the word “Titanic.” Getting the picture? When God says no, He’s not trying to be hard to get along with; He’s trying to protect you from the iceberg you’re sailing toward. Many of us have security systems in our homes. When we open the door we have thirty seconds before the alarm goes off and the police are called. God has given you an alarm system that works the same way; it’s called your conscience. And there are three things you can do with it: (1) Turn if off. (2) Tune it out. (3) Allow it to guide you and walk in the blessing of God. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do” (Heb 13:18 NLT). That should be your prayer today, and every day!