The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
Sign up for The Daily Encouraging Word via Email
You can also request to receive a hard copy of the quarterly devotional mailed to you by signing up here:
Sign up for The Daily Encouraging Word via Mail
“The Lord has hidden himself…but I trust him.” Isa 8:17 GNT
Does God feel distant? Floyd McClung writes: “You wake up one morning and all your ‘spiritual feelings’ are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the Devil, but it doesn’t change anything. You go through spiritual exercises, have your friends pray for you, confess every sin you can imagine, then go around asking forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast; still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom will last. It feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. In utter frustration you cry out: ‘What’s the matter with me?’ This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. We all go through it. It’s painful, but it’s absolutely vital to developing your faith. You see, God is always present, even when you are unaware of Him. His presence is too profound to be measured by intellect or emotion. He’s more concerned that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, is what pleases God” (Heb 11:6). You ask, “So what can I do?” Isaiah answers, “The Lord has hidden himself…but I trust him.” Focus on God’s unchanging love and faithfulness. Cling to His promises. During times of spiritual dryness, rest on His Word, not your feelings. Realize that He’s taking you to a deeper level of maturity. Any friendship based strictly on emotion is shallow indeed. So don’t be troubled by trouble—God’s grace is still in full force! He’s with you even when you don’t feel Him. His word to you today is, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5 NIV).
“We share in his sufferings…that we may also share in his glory.” Ro 8:17 NIV
God’s number-one goal for you isn’t comfort, it’s Christlikeness! And to reach it you’ll have to undergo some of the same experiences that Jesus went through—like being misunderstood by your family, ridiculed by church folks, rejected by the world, and disappointed by the people who say they love you. The Bible says we’ve been called to “share in his sufferings…that we may also share in his glory.” So how do we do this? In three ways: (1) Stay focused on God’s plan, not your pain. “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Heb 12:1-2 NLT). Corrie ten Boom said, “If you look within you’ll feel depressed, if you look without you’ll be distressed, but if you look to Christ you’ll be at rest.” (2) Don’t give in to short-term thinking. Look at Jesus, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross” (v. 2 NLT). Keep your eye on the end game. You don’t get the trophy until the race is over, so make up your mind to “stay the course” and finish strong. (3) Start praying the right way. When you understand that God’s objective is to make you more like Christ, you’ll start praying fewer “comfort me” prayers and more “conform me” ones. Instead of asking, “Why me, Lord?” you’ll ask, “What do You want me to learn, Lord?” James writes, “Let the process go on until…you have become men [and women] of mature character” (Jas 1:4 PHPS). That’s how you become more Christlike.
“He will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.” Eph 3:16 TLB
A lady flew across the nation to tell a talk show host how her husband had left her for another woman. The lady, who was young, vibrant, and beautiful, pulled out a photograph and said, “Just look at her. He left me for that!” The host concluded, “Sadly, we’ve been conditioned to think that ‘looks’ are all-important, when, in fact, they’re not.” Nevertheless we keep measuring, comparing, and beating ourselves up because we fall short. If you can’t enjoy who you are because of what you’re not, you’ll never be happy. Advertisers spend billions of dollars getting us to decorate a shell that’s in a losing battle with Mother Nature and Father Time—all in an effort to create what we think will attract others. And when it doesn’t work, we get depressed and wonder what went wrong. Sure, it’s important to look your best, but when you’re obsessed with your appearance you become superficial. And others lose respect for you because they discover that although the box is beautifully wrapped, it’s empty. If you want to know what ultimately wins hearts and attracts the right people, read these words: “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love…And may you have the power to understand…how long, how high, and how deep his love [for you] is…Then you will be made complete” (vv. 16-19 NLT). That’s the secret to inner beauty!
“Two people are better off than one.” Ecc 4:9 NLT
Take the initiative. Don’t wait to be introduced. Say hello and get the other person’s name. If you’re naturally shy, it can be hard taking the first step. But the chances are that the other person feels the same, and when you start talking you’ll find things in common. Take a risk. If you like somebody, go a little deeper and mention a small struggle, fear, or disappointment you’ve experienced. It’s called “manageable risk,” and it lets you gauge how the other person responds. If they’re caring and identify with what you’re saying, that’s a good sign. If they shut down, try to fix you, or act critical, it may be time to move on. Invite them to join you. If everything else works out, exchange phone numbers and invite the other person for coffee or lunch. Then go for a second meeting and give it a little time; that way you’ll know if it’s a friendship worth developing. Go where people hang out. There are lots of places to connect, like church, the gym, school, a play group, or volunteer service. Be willing to leave your comfort zone and try new situations. Remember that God uses all kinds of friendships to fulfill His purpose. One prominent preacher says: “There are friends who were instrumental in my blessing, although they never embraced or affirmed me. These are the ‘Judas sector’ that exists in the life of every child of God…the ones who cause you the most pain. They wound…and betray you, but through their betrayal God’s will can be executed in your life.” Ask God for a friend, then go out and make one!
“Friends sharpen the minds of each other.” Pr 27:17 CEV
Author Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years…except for the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” When it comes to choosing friends, Dr. Charles Townsend says look for: (1) People who influence you to be the person God intended. “As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other” (Pr 27:17 CEV). Relationships are the tools God uses to do this. When you’re with somebody, ask yourself, “Do I like who I am when I’m around this person? Am I more open, loving and honest? Or do I not like what I see in myself?” Choose people who make you a better person. (2) People who provide grace for the energy drain. When you’re empty you need to be refueled physically, spiritually, and relationally. So surround yourself with friends who will listen, encourage, and be there for you. (3) People who let you be real. “A friend loveth at all times” (Pr 17:17). The best relationships are those where you know you’re loved, you’re free to be yourself, and you can take off the cheerleading uniform and be real about the difficult aspects of life. There’s comfort and normalcy in friendships where you can be authentic. (4) People who help you grow in faith. You need friends who encourage you to pray, read the Bible, and help you to see the “big picture” concerning what’s important in your life. Ephesians 4:16 talks about operating as a body: “All the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to help the whole body grow and be strong with love” (NCV). Don’t try to do it alone. Reach out to friends who’ll reach back.