One of Satan’s most effective weapons is discouragement. The enemy knows that if he can destroy our courage, we’ll be ineffective in our attempts to accomplish anything for Christ. Let’s explore the downward spiral created by this destructive force.
One mark of discouragement is a divided mind. This underlying distraction affects every area and decision. No matter what you’re doing, it feels as if a dark cloud covers your entire thought life.
Discouragement also leads to the “blame game,” where it’s common to feel the need to point a finger at someone else. You may want to find fault with God because He has allowed painful circumstances in your life, or you may accuse others because of the way they treat you. Perhaps you yourself feel guilty for poor choices or past mistakes. My friend, blame is an empty activity. No healing or restoration ever came from trying to pin responsibility on someone else for the hardships in your life.
Anger is another common indication that a person is discouraged. When this occurs, bitterness may develop and finally become a spirit of vengeance. If you let anger grow and fester without resolution, it can easily turn into depression. Then resentment can act like a cancer that slowly spreads and invades every aspect of your life.
The traits described above aren’t what one would expect of a Christian, are they? However, they are all too evident in the church. Ask the Lord to search your heart for any trace of discouragement—and to eliminate its destructive power from your life.
Bible in One Year: Proverbs 19-21
Read: Psalm 139:1–18
Bible in a Year: Psalms 7–9; Acts 18
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.—Psalm 139:2
The universe is astonishingly grand. Right now the moon is spinning around us at nearly 2,300 miles an hour. Our Earth is spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 billion other stars and trillions more planets in our galaxy, and that galaxy is just one of 100 billion others hurtling through space. Astounding!
In comparison to this vast cosmos, our little Earth is no bigger than a pebble, and our individual lives no greater than a grain of sand. Yet according to Scripture, the God of the galaxies attends to each microscopic one of us in intimate detail. He saw us before we existed (Ps. 139:13-16); He watches us as we go about our days and listens for our every thought (vv. 1-6).
It can be hard to believe this sometimes. This tiny “pebble” has big problems like war and famine, and we can question God’s care in times of personal suffering. But when King David wrote Psalm 139 he was in the midst of crisis himself (vv. 19-20). And when Jesus said God counts each hair on our heads (Matt. 10:30), He was living in an age of crucifixion. Biblical talk of God’s caring attention isn’t a naïve wish. It is real-world truth.
The One who keeps the galaxies spinning knows us intimately. That can help us get through the worst of times. —Sheridan Voysey
Father God, Your eye is on me as much as it is on the stars in the sky. Thank You for Your love, Your care, Your attention.
The God of the cosmos cares for us intimately.
Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God.—Isaiah 41:10
God’s Word is clear on this point: We are not to fear. Notice that He doesn’t say that we are never to feel fear, but He does say we shouldn’t allow fear to control us and steal our destiny.
It’s important to remember that what we hide in the darkness has to be brought into the light if we’re going to get rid of it. Go into a completely dark room and switch on the light. What happens? The darkness is swallowed up. That is the way God and His Word work in our lives. When we do what God’s Word tells us to do, those fears that try to torment us are swallowed up. They’re gone, and they have no power over you.
How I wish I had a magic wand I could wave or a prayer I could say that would end fear in your life once and for all. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Prayer does give us the strength to stand against fear, but for us to overcome and be conquerors as God intends us to be, we must realize that we can “feel the fear and do it anyway,” and then we’ll be free.
Lord, may the power of Your Word be effective in dealing with the fears I bring to You now. Show me the truths that set my soul free. Amen.
From the book The Confident Woman Devotional: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer.
“And because we are His sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father.” (Galatians 4:6).
What would you say is the most sacred privilege and indescribable honor of your entire lifetime? If you are a Christian and you rightly understand the meaning of our verse for today, you will agree that nothing compares with presenting your body to the Holy Spirit to be His dwelling place here on earth.
Wherever I am in the world, whether speaking in meetings, reading the Bible, praying, counseling, attending various conferences, alone in my hotel room, or enjoying the company of my dearly beloved wife and family, I am always keenly aware that my body is a temple of God and there is no higher privilege.
I am reminded of the Virgin Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement that she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit. “Oh, how I praise the Lord! How I rejoice in God my Savior, for He has taken notice of this lowly servant girl and now, generation after generation, forever shall be called blessed of God, for He, the mighty one, has done great things to me.”
“His mercy goes on from generation to generation to all who reverence Him,” she continues in triumphant, joyful expression of her grateful heart.
We, too, should praise and give thanks to God constantly for the privilege of being chosen to be a temple in which he dwells here on earth. As one meditates upon this fact, one becomes intoxicated with the realization that the infinite, omnipotent, holy, loving, righteous God and Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now dwell within us who have received Him.
There are many believers who are not fully aware of the significance of this fact, because though they as believers in Christ possess the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit does not possess all of them. Ours is the indescribable privilege of presenting our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice, as temples in which He will dwell. Only then, will we have the power to live the abundant, supernatural life promised to those who yield their hearts and lives to the control of the Holy Spirit.
Bible Reading: Galatians 4:7-14
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As often as the thought comes to mind today, I will acknowledge the fullness and control of God’s Holy Spirit in my life. I will also encourage other Christians to claim by faith the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit for their lives.
You cannot control the weather. You are not in charge of the economy. You can’t un-wreck the car. But you can map out a strategy. Remember, God is in this crisis. Ask God to give you two or three steps you can take today. Seek counsel from someone who has faced a similar challenge. Ask friends to pray. Reach out to a support group. Most importantly, make a plan.
You’d prefer a miracle for your crisis? You’d rather see the bread multiplied or the stormy sea turned glassy calm in a finger snap? God may do this. Then again, He may say, I am with you. I can use this for good. Now let’s make a plan. God’s sovereignty does not negate our responsibility. It empowers it. Don’t let the crisis paralyze you. Trust God to do what you cannot. Obey God, and do what you can.
From You’ll Get Through This
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According to authorities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a man behind bars may have put himself there with the help of a smart home device. Eduardo Barros and his girlfriend were reportedly house-sitting a home over the weekend. When she got a text message, Barros became angry, accusing her of cheating on him, and allegedly hit and kicked her.
Then he got a gun, told her he was going to kill her, and asked, “Did you call the sheriff’s?” The smart home device heard those words and took them as “call the sheriff’s.” Deputies responded and Barros was taken into custody. The sheriff told ABC News that the device likely saved the woman’s life.
Technology no doubt presents enormous challenges these days. A Texas teenager taking a bath was electrocuted when her cell phone fell into the bathtub. Forbes is reporting that personal data for as many as fourteen million Verizon customers was exposed because of a security lapse. Cell phones have made Internet pornography more available than ever, especially to children.
However, there’s good news in today’s tech news as well: one week after North Korea launched a missile capable of reaching Alaska and Seattle, the US carried out the first successful interception of such a weapon. MIT is working on 3D printing with the potential to build houses in remote locations where materials and labor would be in short supply. And robots are being developed to help fight cancer.
Read 1 CHRONICLES 11:10-47
In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell contends that the form of hero stories in many cultures is the same no matter where it is told. This basic story line is found in fantasy epics and many novels.
Today’s passage describes the accomplishments of “the chiefs of David’s mighty warriors” (v. 10). Jashobeam raised his spear against 300 opponents (v. 11). Eleazar stood his ground and defended a plot of ground against the Philistines when the rest of the army fled from the enemy (vv. 12–14). Three men broke through the Philistine lines to bring water to David. (vv. 15–19). Abishai became as renowned as the three men who did this and had the honor of acting as their commander (vv. 20–21). Benaiah is credited with several feats (vv. 22–25). The remainder of chapter 11 lists the names and background of David’s “mighty warriors.” The accounts in this section all share two characteristics. First, they had bold faith. Each of those mentioned acted bravely despite overwhelming odds. Courage is not the absence of fear but the determination to act in the midst of fear. Faith is the expectation that God will accomplish His will through our action (and sometimes in spite of it). David’s mighty warriors not only acted heroically, they showed that they possessed a heroic faith.
Second, these accounts reflect the mutual devotion that was felt by David and his men. David’s warriors were devoted to their king, willing to risk their lives on his behalf. David in turn was devoted to his men. He did not take their sacrifice for granted. Instead of seeing it as a tribute to his own leadership, David viewed their courageous acts as something that should be offered to God.
APPLY THE WORD
Most often our battles are “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). In order to live courageously for God, we require time in prayer in His Word. Commit to living boldly for the Lord!