Denise’s 28-Day Journey
Denise’s 28-day email devotional will encourage and strengthen you! Subscribe using the form below. Read previous devotionals here.
Articles from the Blog
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that, which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. — Ephesians 4:29When I was a young man, my family attended a church where the pastor was a fabulous Bible teacher. Wednesday night services were my favorite, because that is when he would really open the Word of God and teach us. But there was one aspect of the Wednesday night services that I absolutely despised — a gossiping church member who always started running her mouth as soon as church was finished! This woman would stand to the side, peering at others and whispering about them behind their backs. But whenever the subject of her gossip approached her little clique, she’d stop whispering and smile at him or her so nicely and graciously. I hated the hypocrisy of this gossiper’s behavior and never understood how she could talk so badly about people immediately after hearing the Word of God taught with such power! I remember how this woman always looked so elated when she found a new choice morsel of information about someone else in the church that she could start broadcasting. Yet most of what she gossiped about was based on hearsay. She didn’t even know if the “tidbits” she shared were factual. As long as they were enticing to hear, she knew she’d always have a small clan of devoted listeners. But even if the things this woman gossiped about had been factual, she had no business talking about them with others. How does God feel about people who gossip? Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” The following verse continues to say, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God.…” The implication is that when “corrupt communication” comes out of a believer’s mouth, it causes the Holy Spirit to be grieved (see January 5). You see, gossip is a sin that grieves the Holy Spirit. Did you notice that Paul calls it “corrupt communication”? This phrase comes from the Greek word phaulos, which refers to something that stinks or to something that is rotting, such as meat that is full of maggots. This kind of communication is dead, decaying, and it stinks. It is offensive to the Spirit of God, and it grieves Him. Gossip is so destructive and offensive that Paul forbids gossip in Second Corinthians 12:20. In this verse, Paul says, “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swelling, tumults.” Do you see the word “whisperings”? This is the Greek word psithurimos — which means gossip! To make sure we know how evil gossip is, Paul lists it side by side with several other horrible attitudes and actions. He places gossip right alongside with: Debates: From the Greek word eris, which depicts a church divided by church politics. It could be translated as the word quarrels or wranglings. Envyings: From the Greek word zelos, which pictures a person so self-consumed that he fiercely fights for his own cause, not considering the needs or desires of others. It can be translated as the word jealousy. Wraths: From the Greek word thumos, portraying a person who suddenly flares up and loses his control of some kind of unresolved, deep-seated anger. This is a person who literally boils over with anger and blows up, erupting in an ugly outburst that negatively affects other people. Strifes: From the Greek word eritheia, depicting a selfish desire to promote one’s own way even if it means splitting and dividing the church. This is a picture of people taking sides in the church and thus dividing, splitting, and splintering the church into opposing factions. Backbiting: From the Greek word katalalia, meaning to talk down or to speak derogatorily about someone else. It can be translated as the word slander. Whisperings: From the Greek word psithurismos, which expresses the idea of a gossiper. The reason they whisper is that they know this kind of talk is wrong and that they’d get in trouble for what they were saying; therefore, they whisper their tidbits of information to others in secret. Swellings: From the Greek word phusiosis, which carries the idea of a person filled with pride. In fact, it can be translated to be puffed up. This is a person who is puffed up in pride about something that isn’t even important; nevertheless, he has allowed this thing to delude him into a false sense of over-significance or of being better than others. This word could also be translated as the word arrogance. Tumults: From the Greek word akatastasia, referring to anarchy, chaos, insubordination, or to some kind of attitude or action that creates upheaval, unrest, or instability. It describes the attitude or actions of a person who creates some type of disastrous disturbance. I want you to notice that “gossip” is right smack dab in the middle of this list! What does this tell you about what God thinks of gossip and of those who are involved in the act of gossiping? Let’s be sure we understand what the word “gossip” describes! It describes a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts, rumors, or reports of an intimate nature that are none of his business. For instance, gossip would include:
- Talking about other people’s business and things that do not concern you.
- Repeating what someone else said, even though you don’t know whether or not it’s true.
- Talking to others as if you were an authority about matters that are other people’s business, when in reality you don’t know what you are talking about.
- In the women’s bathroom at the office.
- In your office when the doors were closed and no one was watching or listening.
- In the lunch-break room when it was only you and the person to whom you were talking.
- In a prayer meeting, where people often whisper about others under the camouflage of “prayer.”
- In a corner where the boss, director, pastor, or subject of your gossip couldn’t hear what you were saying.
My Prayer for TodayLord, I admit that I’m guilty of occasionally talking behind people’s backs, and I’m wrong for doing it. I ask You to please forgive me for allowing the devil to use me in this way. I am asking You to help me keep a tight rein on my tongue and to refrain from gossiping about other people. When I find myself in a situation where the conversation turns to gossip, help me know how to graciously dismiss myself from the conversation so I can avoid participating in this sin and falling back into this trap. I repent for my activity in gossip, and I turn from it in Jesus’ name!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I will no longer participate in the sin of gossip. If it can’t be said publicly, I refuse to say it. If I have to whisper it, I will not repeat it. I refrain from gossip, and I stay away from those who practice it. Gossip is a sin, and I refuse to be a part of it. My mouth speaks only what is good for the use of edifying those who hear me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Do you find that you are tempted to repeat information about other people, even though what you are repeating has nothing to do with you and is none of your business? Be honest in your answer, because God has already observed your behavior and knows the truth! 2. Sometimes gossip happens during prayer meetings. Have you ever witnessed a moment when a prayer request turned into a gossip session, and you felt guilty for talking so badly about that person before you prayed for him or her? 3. If you’ve been involved in gossip, have you sensed the conviction of the Holy Spirit trying to tell you to stop this activity?
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service, which have for Jerusalem, may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. — Romans 15:30-32Because the apostle Paul’s ministry demanded so much of him and because there was so much resistance to stop him, he knew he needed as much prayer support as he could get! That is why he wrote to the Romans and asked, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.” By studying this specific prayer request of the apostle Paul, we can gain insights about how we need to be praying for our own pastors or for those who are in spiritual authority over our lives. So let’s take a few minutes to seriously look at these verses today to see what we can learn about praying for our spiritual leaders. First, Paul makes the following request: “…that ye strive together with me in your prayers….” The words “strive together” are taken from the Greek word sunagonidzomai, which is a compound of the words sun and agonidzo. The word sun means together and carries the meaning of doing something with someone else. The word agonidzo means to agonize. It indicates an intense agony; a violent struggle; anguish; contending with an enemy; or fighting in a contest. This tells me that Paul was in a great spiritual battle at the time he wrote this prayer request. In fact, the fight was so intense that he felt the need for others to join with him in prayer. He didn’t want to face this spiritual fight alone, so he opened his heart and asked others to join with him in fighting this battle. As you pray for your pastor or spiritual leader, remember that he or she needs your support in prayer. Just as Jesus requested Peter, James, and John to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, your pastor needs your prayer support. Yes, he can pray alone, but it will be such a help for him to know that others are standing in faith and in the Spirit with him. The apostle Paul needed this, and your pastor needs it as well. Second, Paul specifically asked them to pray: “That I may be delivered from them that do not believe…” (v. 31). The word “delivered” is the Greek word ruomai, which means to be rescued, to deliver, to snatch out of, or to drag out of danger. It may sound strange that Paul would request others to pray that he would be delivered from those who didn’t believe. But Paul had gone through many experiences with “unbelievers” who resisted him, as well as with so-called “brethren” who gave him constant troubles. It is simply a fact that the devil works primarily through people. When he wants to stop the advancement of the Gospel, he often tries to resist a local church or pastor by stirring up someone in the community to be against the pastor. Sometimes the enemy even uses people inside the local church to create problems that bring division and disaster. So when you pray for your pastor, remember to pray that he will be snatched out of the traps and snares set for him by people who have wrong motives. Third, Paul requested prayer: “…that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints” (v. 31). The word “service” is the Greek word diakonia, which is the Greek word for the ministry. The word “accepted” is the Greek word euprosdektos, which means to be pleasing, acceptable, or well-received. This is an expected prayer request from a preacher! Paul has sought God through prayer and listened to hear what the Lord is saying to his spirit because he wants to do well in his ministry. Paul desires every word to be spoken correctly, accurately, and in a way that pleases God. Furthermore, he wants people to believe in the sincerity of his motives and not to question whether he has ulterior motives for speaking to them about the Lord. Thus, he prays that his ministry to the saints in Jerusalem will be well received. As you pray for your pastor, be sure to include this item on your prayer list! Pray that his ministry will be blessed and accepted and that people will receive him and hear his heart the way he means to convey it. He needs your prayer power working behind him as he takes specific words from God into various situations. Fourth, Paul requested that the believers in Rome pray “that I may come unto you with joy…” (v. 32). The word “joy” is the Greek word chara, meaning joy, gladness, or rejoicing. This simply means Paul wanted to have joy in his ministry! He had faced many hardships that gave him opportunities to lose his joy — such as broken friendships, dashed expectations, political turmoil, church divisions, and so on. Paul’s request was very simple: “Please pray that I will have and will keep my joy in the middle of everything I have to deal with in my ministry!” Just think of the things that happen in your own life that tempt you to lose your joy. What about your pastor? Think of all the people he counsels, the marriages he tries to help, the sermons he has to prepare, and the organization he has to oversee. Then on top of all that, think of the disappointment your pastor is tempted to feel when people he has helped in the past decide to leave the church. I guarantee you that there are many opportunities for your pastor to lose his joy. So take Paul’s prayer request to heart and apply it to your pastor. Pray that your pastor will have and will hold on to his joy in spite of everything he has to deal with in his ministry! Fifth, Paul prayed: “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God….” The word “will” is the Greek word thelema, meaning the design, purpose, plan, or will. Paul wanted to be right in the middle of God’s will for his life! Just as we pray to make no mistakes and to be right where God wants us to be, Paul prayed the very same prayer! He wanted the saints to pray that he would make no mistakes and that he might always stay in the perfect plan of God. So when you pray for your pastor, pray that he will have the wisdom to know what he is supposed to do in the various situations he faces in his ministry. Questions come at him all day long, and he needs your prayer support to make right decisions. And just as Paul requested prayer that he would be in the will of God, help your pastor by strongly praying that he will stay sensitive to the Spirit so he can avoid making costly mistakes and follow God’s will for himself and for the church. Sixth, Paul requested prayer that he might be “refreshed” (v. 32). The word “refreshed” is the Greek word sunanapauomai, a compound of the words sun and anapauomai. The word sun means together with, as to do or to experience something with someone else. The word anapauomai means to calm, to soothe, to refresh, or to be refreshed. When these two words are positioned together, they become the word sunanapauomai, which means to be refreshed with someone else. Everyone needs to be refreshed from time to time — including pastors and preachers! People tend to think that pastors and preachers don’t need the same refreshing that others need, but everyone needs to be refreshed and touched by God from time to time! Paul makes his need for refreshment known by telling his Roman readers, “I need to be refreshed just like the rest of you, so please pray that I will be refreshed!” As you pray for your pastor, or for the ministries and missionaries you support, use this prayer request of the apostle Paul to guide you in your prayers. This prayer was included in the New Testament by the Holy Spirit to let us know that everyone — including ministers of the Gospel — need people to stand behind them in prayer. So why not use this prayer as a tool to help you pray more effectively for the spiritual leaders to whom God has connected you?
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am making the decision to stand with my pastor in prayer! I want to join him as a sincere prayer partner and support him spiritually by praying for him. I ask You to deliver him from people who have wrong motives. I also pray that his ministry will be well received; that he will have joy in his ministry; that he will make right decisions and stay in the will of God; and that he will always feel strong and refreshed in his spirit, soul, and body. Please richly bless my pastor, his wife, and his family.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am a strong support to my pastor and his family. I regularly pray for him and for the other ministries and missionaries God has called me to support. They need my prayer power — and I stand with them in the Spirit for God’s blessings to come upon their lives!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Do you spend time praying for your pastor and the needs he may be facing in his own life? If you were a pastor, don’t you think that you would want your congregation to be praying for you? 2. Based on Paul’s prayer request in Romans 15:30-32, what is the most important thing you can be praying for your pastor right now? 3. As you pray, do you sense the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray anything special for your pastor and his family? If so, pay close attention to that prompting, for it may be a special leading of the Holy Spirit to show you how to support him and his family in prayer, especially at this present time.
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. — Mark 11:23The devil loves to make a playground out of people’s minds and imaginations. He delights in filling their perceptions and senses with illusions that captivate them, paralyze them, and ultimately destroy them. How can believers avoid falling victim to the devil’s attacks? They must make a spiritual and mental decision to take charge of every thought that enters their minds! Taking your thoughts captive is going to require determination and energy. Once you make the decision to do it, you still have to stick with that decision. If you’re not really committed to seizing every thought the devil tries to inject into your mind and emotions, he’ll be back to strike you again and again. And if you don’t stop the enemy’s thoughts from invading your mind, it won’t be long until your faith begins to empower those thoughts and they become a bona fide reality in your life! Mark 11:23 is a powerful verse about faith and confession that believers claim and use around the world. But the principle in this verse works in both a positive and negative sense — or to put it another way, this principle works both in the realm of God and in the realm of the devil. Mark 11:23 says, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” According to what Jesus taught in this verse, you can bring to pass whatsoever you say and believe in your heart. Did you notice that Jesus said if a person confesses something “and shall not doubt in his heart” — in other words, if he believes the words he is speaking with his mouth — he will have exactly what he says. The word “doubt” is from the Greek word diakrinomai, which means to hesitate, to waver, to doubt, or to differ. In context, Jesus is saying that when a person’s heart doesn’t differ from what his mouth is saying, the combination of his heart and mouth in agreement will always make things happen! I call this concept “the heart-mouth connection.” For instance, if you believe in your heart that Jesus purchased your healing, and you put your heartfelt faith together with the confession of your mouth, you can literally bring that healing into manifestation in your physical body. Creative power is released when the heart and mouth get into agreement! That is why you must be careful about what you believe in your heart and say with your mouth, because when your heart and mouth get “in sync” with each other, it literally makes things come to pass! This heart-mouth combination works on both the positive and negative sides of life. It can bring about the manifestation of healing in your body, salvation to your family, prosperity to your business, and growth to your local church. But the devil also knows how to use this principle against you! The enemy knows if he can fill your mind and heart with lies that you believe and then coax you into confessing those lies with your mouth, you will make those evil images come to pass in your life! That is exactly why the devil wants to fill your mind with lies and accusations. That’s why he paints so vividly on the “movie screen” in your mind. That’s why he assaults your mind and emotions again and again. He knows he just has to get you to embrace these lies and to start believing them. Once you do that, you’ll soon start speaking those lies out of your mouth. And if you start speaking them with your mouth, it will only be a matter of time until they become your reality. Jesus said, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). So according to Jesus, whatever is in your heart is eventually going to come out of your mouth! Because great power is released when your heart and mouth start working together, it’s extremely important that you put the right things into your heart. Mark 11:23 promises that whatever you believe in your heart and say with your mouth will come to pass. But as I said before, it doesn’t just apply to Bible verses; it applies to anything you believe in your heart and say with your mouth. So if the devil can get you to believe and say wrong things, your own heart and mouth will cause those killer confessions to come to pass. I know it’s hard to control your mouth sometimes, but when you start to “run at the mouth” and say any ol’ thing the devil puts in your head, you’re playing with fire! It is a scientific fact that when you speak something out loud, those words are verified and empowered in your mind. That’s why the devil wants you to repeat every stupid thing he puts in your mind. By repeating it out loud, you are helping him build a stronghold in the realm of your mind and imagination! This is another reason why it’s so important for you to spend time in the Word of God. As you spend time meditating in the Word, your mind becomes renewed to God’s way of thinking (see Ephesians 4:23 and Colossians 3:10). God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes your mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into your brain. When you make it a priority to fill your mind with truth from God’s Word, the enemy can’t penetrate your mind and he can’t fill you with his lies. And if you’re not filled with his lies, you won’t be speaking and confessing things that are untrue! You see, when your mind is renewed to the Word of God, you become inwardly strengthened and very hard to deceive! Satan knows that empty heads are much easier to deceive. That’s why he loves it when he finds a believer who has made no effort to fill his mind with truth from God’s Word. The devil knows he has found another empty head just waiting for him to come along and fill it — and he’s happy to oblige! Who or what is going to control your mind? God and His Word, or the enemy and his lies? Your mind is going to be filled with something, so you may as well choose the right thing to fill it. Your choice in this matter will determine your success or your failure in life, so make sure you choose wisely!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I want my heart and mouth to say the right things! I know I need to spend more time filling my heart and mind with Your Word. I also know I need to be speaking positive confessions about myself, my family, my business, my future, my health, and every other area of my life. Your Word has the promises I need for every sphere of my life, so I ask You to help me fill my heart with the truth and line up my mouth with what Your Word promises for my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I spend time meditating in the Word of God, and it renews my mind to God’s way of thinking. God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes my mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into my brain. I make it a priority to fill my mind with truth from God’s Word; therefore, I make it very difficult for the devil to penetrate my mind with his lies.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. What negative things do you say about yourself — about your weight, your appearance, your skills, etc. — that you know you ought not to be saying? 2. Can you recall an example of how you confessed something negative for so long that your words eventually came to pass in your life? 3. How much time do you spend reading your Bible and meditating on God’s Word? There is no reason to be dishonest in your answer, because God knows the truth anyway. Look at your life honestly as you answer this question.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. — 1 Peter 1:13Today I want to draw your attention to the phrase “gird up the loins of your mind” that is used in the verse above. This isn’t just an interesting phrase that Peter concocted when he wrote this verse. It is an extremely powerful and graphic picture that expresses something very important that you and I need to understand and apply in our lives! This phrase “gird up the loins” comes from the Greek word anadzonnumi. This word was used to describe Orientals who wore long robes. Before taking a long journey or before running in a race, they would gather up their loose robes and tuck them up under their girdle. Most frequently this word would be used to depict a runner who was running a race. To run freely and without hindrance, he would reach down to gather the long, dangling ends of his garments and then tuck them up under his belt. With the loose ends out of the way, he could then run freely and without distraction. But the runner would get in trouble if he ever allowed his garments to fall down and become entangled in his legs. Even though he may have been picking up his stride and running a good race up to that point, the encumbrance of dangling, loosely hanging clothes would hinder his steps. And allowing those loose ends to keep dangling would have been a sure way to lose the race! But notice that Peter is not talking about a garment made of material; he is referring to the loins of our minds. You see, Peter is telling us that if we don’t:
- deal with the loose ends that exist in our minds and emotions;
- correct those parts of our thinking that we know are wrong;
- grab hold of all those dangling areas in our thinking and put them out of the way;
- and remove them by the authority of the Word of God —
- then we are choosing to permit things to exist in our lives that will hinder our steps and slow us down in our race and in our ability to successfully walk with God!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I ask You to help me tie up the loose ends that I’ve allowed to remain in my mind and emotions. Today I am making the deliberate choice to start submitting every area of my mind and emotions to the Word of God and to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Please let the power of Your Word and Spirit flow into every area of my mind and emotions, energizing them with Your Presence so that the devil can no longer access me through these areas of my life!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that my mind and emotions are submitted to and renewed by God’s Word. The devil has no access to my mind because my thought life is dominated by God’s Word and by the power of the Spirit. I think God’s thoughts, and I have the mind of Jesus Christ. Therefore, no entrance is available in my mind or emotions through which the devil can access me! I believe the truth; I think the truth; and I confess the truth about who Jesus Christ has made me to be!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. If you take an honest look at the spiritual attacks that have assaulted your life, how many of them have been a result of your failure to renew your mind or take authority over the devil’s strategies in your life? If the Word of God had dominated your mind and if you had been walking in the Spirit, how might the situation have turned out differently? 2. What are you doing right now to make sure the devil can’t find access to your mind and emotions again? What practical steps are you taking to make sure that you won’t fall into that same trap the next time? 3. If you encounter someone who is constantly being assaulted by the enemy, what preventative steps should you advise that person to take to ensure that the next demonic attack that comes against him is ineffective?
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. — Hebrews 10:24Do you ever get so busy and self-consumed that you forget there are people all around you who have needs and challenges too? It’s true that we are often so concerned about ourselves that we forget or bypass people who are struggling terribly, not realizing that they need a special act or word to encourage them. This is especially sad when it happens inside the church, because we are supposed to be a spiritual family who genuinely cares for one another and who helps meet each other’s needs. This is why Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” The word “consider” is from the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata depicts something that is moving downward; the word noeo (from the word nous) depicts the mind and means to think. When the two words are placed together, the new word means to thoroughly think something through or to ponder something from the top all the way to the bottom. It is the idea of mulling something over; carefully contemplating a matter; pondering and carefully looking at a particular issue; or examining and fully studying a subject. This word pictures someone who is so concerned about someone else that he has taken the time to really consider that other person. He has observed the person’s ups and downs and his highs and lows. He has studied to find out what helps that person feel encouraged and what events tend to pull him down. Because he has determined to really know and understand that other person, he invests a great deal of time and concentration into studying and getting to know that other person. This kind of knowledge doesn’t come by accident, but by determined pursuit. In light of this understanding, we must remember that although the local church is to be a place where we can come to worship and hear the Word of God preached and taught, it is also a place where believers should “consider one another” as this verse commands. The writer of Hebrews uses this word to convey the picture of a loving community where people are vitally concerned about each others’ welfare. In fact, they are constantly observing and contemplating each other to know how to encourage and provoke each other to love and to good works. Not only are we to consider one another, but the Bible goes on to say we are also to provoke one another unto love and good works. The word “provoke” is the Greek word paraxusmos. The word para means alongside, and it carries the idea of being close. The second part of the word is the Greek word xusmos, which means to sharpen something, such as a knife, and indicates a very sharp situation. When you put the two words together, the compound word describes someone who has come alongside of someone else for the purpose of prodding and impelling that person to do something. You may have already guessed that “provoking” one another can be either a positive or a negative thing! One translation for this word paraxusmos would be to call into combat. Throughout the New Testament, the word paraxusmos is usually translated to mean to irritate, to incite, to anger, to inflame, or to enrage. Obviously, this kind of provoking is very bad! But in Hebrews 10:24, the word “provoking” is telling us that our relationships with other believers should incite us to become better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord. How can you provoke other believers in a positive way? How can you stimulate your brother in the Lord in such a way that you make him want to walk in love and do good works? How can you sharpen and inspire the fellow believer who is in need of endurance? You can come alongside that person and love him enough not to leave him in discouragement and defeat. You can sharpen him, prod him, impel him, and inspire him to keep on fighting the good fight of faith! All believers need to be provoked at times, no matter what their position is in the Body of Christ. Everyone needs a loving push in the right direction now and then!
A paraphrase of this verse might be the following:
“And constantly be observing one another, seriously contemplating, studying, and examining each other, until you know exactly how to incite and stimulate each other to love and to good works.”This verse plainly tells us that we should be extremely concerned about each other’s welfare and spiritual progression. We are to get involved in the local church, not just for our own benefit, but to be a benefit to others as well. We need people who will love us, observe us, and support us when we are struggling or standing on a word from God. But at the same time, others need our assistance too. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” This verse is telling us that real friends love us at all times and stay with us even in the midst of difficult circumstances. They will love us and stand with us no matter what we are going through, looking for ways to assist us when we are experiencing challenging times. The local church should be a place of victory where faith is built up, the soul is encouraged, and wisdom and strength are imparted. It’s a community where faith lives and triumphs through a family of believers’ love and concern for one another. There is nothing like living in an atmosphere of faith and love where you are surrounded by believers who really believe and practice the Word of God. Having friends like this gives you strength — and being a friend like this to someone else helps give him the strength he needs to live as an overcomer. There is absolutely no substitute for the joy and satisfaction that comes when fellow church members go out of their way to call you, to come see you, to write you a note, or to personally check up on you — just because they have noticed that you need a little encouraging! Just knowing that someone cares enough to do that can make such a difference when you’re going through a difficult time! If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re probably pretty good at provoking others in the negative sense. So why not commit yourself to becoming just as proficient in provoking your brothers and sisters in the Lord in the positive sense? Make a quality decision to become an expert at provoking others unto love and good deeds!
My Prayer for TodayLord, forgive me for being so self-consumed that I have neglected to see the needs in people around me. I am sorry I’ve been so selfish that I haven’t even recognized the times I could have been a blessing and an encouragement. I repent and I make the decision to reach out to those who are around me. Just as others have strengthened me, I want to be a source of strength to those around me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I take the time to carefully consider other people’s needs. I observe their ups and downs and their highs and lows. I study to find out what helps them feel encouraged. I am constantly observing and contemplating others to know how to encourage and provoke them to love and to good works. God uses me to come alongside those around me to help impel them to stay on track with God and with their God-given assignments. Because I am careful to notice other people’s needs and I reach out to assist them with words of strength, they are becoming better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!