The writers of Encouraging.com are celebrating their fifteen year landmark by making their 365 daily devotional book, God Moments, available as a free digital download! A total of thirty-six GABC writers have faithfully captured “moments of God’s presence” in their lives to encourage your own spiritual journey. You can find God Moments on amazon.com, iTunes, and BarnesandNoble.com.

The Underdog

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10


Why is it that we often root for the underdog? We love to see the little guy in the football game make the big plays. We enjoy watching the short basketball player fly through the air to dunk. What about teams like the Bad News Bears? They were the definition of a team of misfits who pull together to win. We enjoy rooting for the unlikely hero.

Those who are not expected to win in some ways don’t have as much to lose, so they play with all heart. They give it everything they’ve got, and the celebration that ensues when the underdog wins is like no other. 

The Bible is full of unlikely heroes. God uses those we wouldn't expect to make some big plays. We immediately think of David and Goliath. But there are so many more! God used a prostitute to help the Israelites move toward the Promised Land. God turned a persecutor of Christians into a faithful preacher and teacher of His people. Similar stories are told throughout the Bible.

Do you consider yourself a hero? I'm guessing that you don't. We are more likely to identify with underdog because we do not consider ourselves important enough or good enough to be used by God. But isn’t that how God’s economy works? He uses us despite our weaknesses. When we think it’s impossible is when God shows up to pull out that win. And the glory belongs to Him alone.


God, thank You for using us and allowing us to be used by You. We know that anything great that we do is only because You make it happen. Thank you for our weaknesses because in these weaknesses, You are strong.

Julie

It's Personal

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 
Ephesians 1:17


So you’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t take it personally,” right? Well, let’s consider the opposite. I recently read an article about the increase in the numbers of sports fans who are women. It’s not an accident, either. The sports industry has made an effort to include our demographic.

Do you know how they have marketed sports to women? They run articles and television programs about the personal lives of athletes to perk our interest. From stories of tragedy to triumph to stories of family and friends, these tactics work!

Did you know that Peyton Manning, former Denver Broncos quarterback, has consistently written encouraging letters to members of the organizations he has played for? We’re talking facilities workers and office staff, not just his teammates and coaches. And he is a follower of Jesus.

By knowing something personal about this quarterback, do you like him more? I do. We appreciate the person he is, and we are now more inclined to care about what he does on the football field. Because we got a little more personal.   

We are also more inclined to care about others when we know them better. I encourage you to invest in the lives of those around you. Get to know your neighbors. Ask that acquaintance to lunch. When we really connect with those around us, we are affected by what affects them. We become more sympathetic. We care about their lives.

We also know that the more personal our relationship with Jesus becomes, the more He affects our lives. The closer we get to Jesus, the more His Word and His Love infiltrates our hearts and changes us. Let’s take it personally.

Lord, thank You that we can know You personally. Deepen and grow our relationships with You, which in turn change us to be more like You. Help us to get to know those around us so that we can love them as You do.




Julie

No "I" in Team

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
John 17:20-21


There's no "I" in team, right? The key to a successful team is working together. Each member is an important part of the team, but how the team pulls together determines ultimate success. There cannot be an “every many for himself” mentality In a team. The team has to come before the individual.

During the 2015 Cotton Bowl, Baylor's quarterback, Bryce Petty, set a record for the most passing yards in a Cotton Bowl - ever. Pretty awesome, right? Except for the part that Baylor lost. Petty's record setting achievement didn't mean a whole lot when the game ended in defeat. The performance of the team as a whole was more important than a great performance from a great player.

How can we put aside self for the greater good of our team? God clearly cares that you do what He has called you to do. God wants you to personally follow His Will and His Word. But the big picture is about glorifying God, not self. We have to realize that we are only a piece of a huge puzzle. Each piece on it’s own does not convey the entire story, but together, the pieces become a masterpiece. Because we are these pieces, we might not ever see the end result. We just trust that God has the bigger picture in his sights. After all, we are on His team.

Let’s be one with the members of our team so that we can be unified in our “win” as we glorify our Father.


Lord, help us to be unifiers instead of dividers. Show us how to encourage each other and build each other up as we strive toward our common goal of glorifying You.

Julie

On My Team

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household.
Ephesians 2:18-19


Are you a sports fan? My husband and I like to watch sports. We have a couple of teams we follow, and we like to watch big play-off games. Games have also become a fun family activity we enjoy with our kids.

Football season is here, and I am excited! I have cared more about college football in the last few years than ever before. Why? Because MY team has been in the mix lately.

When I was in college, our football team was not great. We hardly won a game. We weren't winning, so there was no television coverage, no fancy uniforms, and a relatively empty stadium on game day. Things are different now.

Why have I jumped wholeheartedly into college football? Because I care about my alma mater, so I care about these boys on the football field. In some way I am connected to these guys because I spent four years in class, in life, in the same place they have. I'm on their side. We have something in common. We belong as fellow sojourners who traveled an important season of life in the same place.

Belonging is an undeniable force. When you feel as though you belong in a certain group, it's quite a bit different than when you don't. It's kind of like "home" when you belong.

As Christians, we belong together as fellow Jesus followers. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We care about each other's lives, and encourage one another. We make our churches and homes places where all believers belong.

Lord, thank you that you have given us a place to belong, citizenship in Your Kingdom. Help us to love each other as you love us, and show us how to stand together with our fellow believers.

Julie

When Kindness Appeared

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.
Titus 3:4-5



“You’re so nice.”

“That was such a nice thing to do.”

“Be nice to your little brother.”

Does hearing those phrases leave you feeling ho-hum? That’s how I feel when others use the word “nice” to describe me. Even when offered as genuine encouragement, the word falls flat and feels lukewarm. Nice is what I am when I haven’t allowed others to see my soul. I tend to hide behind “niceness.” But girls are supposed to be nice, right?

I’m nice out of fear. I’m nice when I want to avoid confrontation. I’m nice to please others. I’m nice so that my critical heart isn’t exposed. Niceness is an adjective. Kindness is a verb. Kindness gives without thought of self. Kindness serves others.

As a Christ follower I want to be kind instead of just being nice. Anyone can be nice, but kindness is part of the fruit (Galatians 5:22) of a new identity in Christ. It’s who I am when I don’t bow to fear, but instead dare to offer my life to serve those in need.

Kindness is active and speaks and shares with strength and conviction for the wellbeing of another.

… love is kind… (1 Corinthians 13:4).

In consulting an online Bible dictionary, kindness brought up numerous verses; nice showed ‘No Results.’ Isn’t that interesting?

Kindness is interchangeable with the word, mercy. Kindness in Titus 3:4 means usefulness in character and gentleness or goodness. Do you desire to be kind like I do?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness [mercy in NIV], and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 ESV).

Lord, your kindness makes all the difference in my life. May I love kindness and be merciful to others.

Karen Sims