Word 4 Today
Posted 08 November 2010 - 11:11 AM
Show Kindness 08 Nov 2010
'Be kindly affectionate to one another...' Romans 12:10
Sometimes we defend our lack of love, kindness, gentleness, patience, and all those other 'fruits of the spirit,' in the name of productivity and hard work. But we can't square it with Christ's teachings. He said, '...whatever you want [others] to do to you, do also to them...' (Matthew 7:12 NKJV). When was the last time you went out of your way to help somebody, expecting nothing in return? Mother Teresa said, 'A day lived without showing love for others, is a day not worth living.' Loving people must be a way of life, a fixed attitude, a commitment we make every day. William Barclay said: 'More people have been brought into the church by the kindness of real Christian love than by all the theological arguments in the world. And more people have been driven from the church by the hardness and ugliness of so-called Christians than by all the doubts in the world.' Have you ever stopped to think that all those little irritations which come your way each day, are just God giving you an opportunity to become more Christ-like? Years ago Chuck Swindoll wrote: 'What does the Lord do to help broaden my horizons and assist me in seeing how selfish I am? Very simple: He gives me four busy kids who step on toes, wrinkle clothes, spill milk, lick car windows, and drop sticky candy on the carpet...being unselfish in attitude strikes at the very core of our being. It means we are willing to forego our own comfort, our own preferences, our own schedule, our own desires for another's benefit. And that brings us back to Christ
Posted 10 November 2010 - 09:47 AM
Legalism or Grace? (1) 10 Nov 2010
'..do not set aside...grace...' Galatians 2:21
Imagine going to the emergency room and being asked to leave because you're bleeding all over the floor! Jesus encountered that legalistic mindset when he healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath. 'Indignant...the synagogue ruler said..."There are six days for work...come and be healed on those days...' ' (Luke13:14 NIV). Observing the law was more important to him than the people he was supposed to care for. Max Lucado says: 'All religion falls into...two camps: legalism or grace. A legalist believes if you look right, speak right and belong to the right group, you'll be saved...The outside sparkles...but something's missing...Joy. What's there instead? Fear-that you won't do enough. Arrogance-that you've done enough. Failure-that you've made a mistake. Legalism is...slow suffocation of the spirit, amputation of one's dreams...enough religion to keep but not nourish you...Your diet is rules and standards. Legalism...doesn't need God...It's the search for innocence-not forgiveness...a systematic process of defending...explaining...exalting...justifying...It turns my opinion into your burden. There's only room for one opinion...and guess who's wrong? It turns my opinion into your boundary. Your opposing opinion makes me question not only your right to fellowship with me, but your salvation. It turns my opinion into your obligation. Christians must toe the company line. Your job isn't to think, it's to march...Salvation is God's business. Grace is his idea, his work, and his expense. He offers it to whomever he desires, when he desires. Our job is to inform people, not screen them.' Paul writes, 'Do not set aside...grace...for if righteousness comes through the law...Christ died in vain.' Thank God 'he saved us because of his mercy...not...good deeds we did...' (Titus 3:5 NCV).
Bible in a Year: 1 Chron 19:1 - 23:20; John 9:24-41; Ps 115; Pr 25:26-28;
Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:10 PM
'We are made fit...by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.' Hebrews 10:10
Rigid adherence to a list of do's and don'ts appeals to our pride and self-sufficiency by fostering the myth that if we work hard enough we can earn God's favour. That's fear-based thinking, and '...God has not given us a spirit of fear...' (2 Timothy1:7 NLT). 'There is no fear in love...fear has to do with punishment...' (1 John 4:18 NIV). Legalism is fear that God isn't big enough to forgive your sins, that unless you do the right thing in the right way at the right time-and do it perfectly-you're in trouble. Jon Walker writes: 'That's a lie with the smell of hell all over it! When we fear making mistakes we become timid, and limit ourselves from living abundantly. We let...analysis permeate our decisions as we lead quiet, desperate, anti-faith lives, afraid to move with the bold confidence that grace gives us to walk in uncertainty...unafraid of rejection.' Speaking against works-based religion, Martin Luther said, 'Be a sinner and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger...rejoice in Christ...the victor over sin.' No, Luther wasn't excusing sin! He was restoring grace to its rightful place, affirming that nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39). He wasn't downgrading the law, He was upgrading grace. Grace means talking to God and listening for His voice when it would be easier to just consult the rule book. The truth is, when '...[Jesus] entered...heaven...to appear...before God on our behalf' (Hebrews 9:24 NLT), He freed us to have a relationship with Him without fear of sin separating us.
Posted 19 November 2010 - 07:13 PM
'So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife...' Ruth 4:13
Look at the instructions Naomi gave Ruth for approaching Boaz, her future husband, and you'll see that there's a certain protocol involved in walking with God. Once you understand it, the things you've been waiting for begin to happen. So: 1) Be sure it's God's will for you. Ruth wasn't looking for just any man, she had a specific one in mind. And because Naomi had done her homework, she was able to tell Ruth where to find him: '...he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor' (Ruth 3:2 NKJV). Research what you want from God before you start claiming things in prayer. Be sure it's what He wants too! If your name's not on it, don't pursue it. Don't go after something because it looks good in someone else's life. God has a plan for you-one that's unique and specific. Seek Him and He will reveal it to you. 2) Deal with your past. Naomi said to Ruth, '...wash yourself...' (Ruth 3:3 NKJV). In order to gain acceptance with Boaz, Ruth couldn't approach him looking and smelling like Moab, the famine-stricken place she'd come from. She needed to settle her past so it didn't sabotage her future. God will open the door for you, but until you've resolved your old issues you won't be able to walk through it. You can't receive what He has for you now if you're still contaminated by what you went through then. Whether it takes six months or six years, sort out your emotional baggage. God says: 'Forget the former things...I am doing a new thing...I am making a way...' (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).
Bible in a Year: 2 Chron 22-24; John 12:12-19; Ps 102:1-11; Pr 27:7-9;
Posted 21 November 2010 - 02:32 PM
'So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife...' Ruth 4:13
In order to prepare Ruth for meeting Boaz, her future husband, Naomi taught her two important principles about succeeding in life: 1) You must have the right attitude. Naomi said to Ruth, '...anoint yourself...' (Ruth 3:3 NKJV). In Bible times people anointed themselves with oil in order to be refreshed and renewed. So Ruth was, in essence, adopting the right attitude. If you're praying for a good job or a suitable partner or a favourable outcome in a particular area but it hasn't happened yet, don't automatically blame Satan-check your attitude. 'Let God re-make you so that your whole attitude...is changed' (Romans 12:2 PHPS). To get the right result, you need the right approach. 2) You must be willing to stand out in the crowd. Naomi instructed Ruth, '...put on your best garment...' (Ruth 3:3 NKJV). But why get dressed up for something that hasn't happened yet? Because God blesses prepared people! When your time comes you must be ready. Ruth's story teaches us that it's those who are willing to stand out in the crowd who get noticed. Any time you dress for where you're going, there's a good chance you'll look out of place where you are. That's okay. Your highest priority should be God's approval, not man's. You must know you have a definite destination, otherwise you'll be tempted to make excuses and try to explain why you're so different from everyone else. When you know where God is taking you, you won't care. The truth is, when others look at your preparation they should be in no doubt as to your destination.
Bible in a Year: Lev 27:30-33; Num 31:48-54; 1 Cor 16:1-3; 2 Cor 9:15;
Posted 25 November 2010 - 04:39 AM
'...I have played the fool...' 1 Samuel 26:21
Your obituary says a lot about you. King Saul's last words were: '...I have played the fool...'(1 Samuel 26:21NKJV) Israel's first king was destined for greatness till he decided to do things his own way instead of God's way. When the Philistines attacked Israel he tried to rally his troops, who were immobilised by fear. He knew he should wait for the prophet Samuel to come and offer a burnt sacrifice as required by the law. But he said, 'I'll just do it myself. Under the circumstances, God won't mind.' That one act of disobedience ended his career. He died by committing suicide on the battlefield; a life filled with promise, ended in disgrace. You play the fool by: 1) Disregarding God in little things. Saul's fall didn't happen overnight. Little sins morph into big ones. Thinking, 'It's no big deal,' Saul took matters into his own hands. He said, '...I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself...' (1Samuel 13:12 NLT). Note the words, 'I felt.' It can feel so right, yet be so wrong. Only trust your feelings when they line up with God's Word. 2) Trying to justify your behaviour. Saul rationalised, '..."I saw my men scattering...you didn't arrive when you said...the Philistines are...ready for battle"' (1Samuel :13:11 NLT). Stop rationalising, repent, and obey God! 3) Letting resentment control you. Though he had the makings of a great leader, when David started to gain popularity, Saul's resentment ended up destroying him. Most people learn from their own mistakes; wise people learn from other people's! Learn from Saul; don't play the fool.
Bible in a Year: 2 Chron 35-36; John 13:18-30; Ps 114; Pr 27:20-22;
Posted 26 November 2010 - 04:09 AM
'...work together with the same purpose...' 1 Corinthians 3:8
Church growth consultant Jim Wideman highlights some things you can do to help those looking to you for direction: 1) Put their goals and needs first. You're a part, not the whole enchilada. Think about how your actions affect others. Be observant of the challenges and setbacks they're experiencing, and find ways to lighten their load even if they don't ask. 2) Help others to win. Let others take a slam-dunk while you take an assist. Keep the ball moving till someone has a chance to score. Adopt the motto, 'It doesn't matter who gets the credit.' Be willing to accept blame and reluctant to assign it. Maintain an authentic desire to share victories. 'A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse' (Mark 3:24 NLT); you can't sink someone else's end of the boat and keep your own afloat. 3) Over-communicate. Keep everyone in the loop, spend time with your peers, invest in your teammates, and admit when you need help. Be open to correction and advice. Leadership coach Rick Tate said, 'Feedback is the breakfast of champions,' and a good communicator is a good listener. 4) Don't take things personally. Leadership, by definition, is about 'others.' When you start thinking it's all about 'you,' you lose perspective. 5) Give it all you've got. Paul, Timothy's mentor, said to him: 'Concentrate on doing...work you won't be ashamed of...' (2 Timothy 2:15 TM). Good leaders empower others. Lao-Tzu said, 'At the end of the days of truly great leaders, the people will say about them, "We did it ourselves."
Posted 28 November 2010 - 04:16 PM
'...Whoever wants to be a leader...must be your servant.' Matthew 20:26
Mac Anderson says: 'Like every human being, I have doubts, fears and disappointments...As leaders, however, we must manage our attitude...we can't underestimate the influence of our actions and attitudes. Churchill said, "The price of leadership is responsibility to stay positive whether you feel like it or not." A good leader launches out before success is certain...doesn't run from confrontation...talks about his own mistakes before anybody else's, and acknowledges them before others have to discover and reveal them. He looks for opportunities to find his teammates doing something right, and encourages the smallest improvement. He doesn't tolerate murmuring in himself or in others...is specific in his expectations...values accountability...does what's right instead of what's popular or convenient.' What does the word 'servant' bring to your mind? The guy who works behind the scenes? The personal assistant who makes you look good? The mate who worked so you could complete your degree? Charles Stanley says: 'Godly servants are all around us, but we often take them for granted. This is a tragedy we need to correct-not only for their sakes but for our own. Their faithful service brings untold blessings...Wherever Joseph went, the people he served were blessed. Potiphar wasn't a God-fearing man, yet he prospered because of Joseph. Find the people in your life who have the gift of godly service and spend time with them...When you turn your nose up at someone doing "servant's work" you cut yourself off from a relationship that could literally change your life.' Each of us has the potential to be great-not famous, but great, because greatness comes by serving!
Bible in a Year: Jos 1-4; John 14:1-14; Ps 118:10-18; Pr 28:1-
When You're the Leader (3) 28 Nov 2010
'...the leader should be like a servant.' Luke 22:26
Michael Bruner writes about how, as a brash young college student, he attended a lecture by a former U.S. Attorney General. He says: 'Afterwards I approached him to see if we could meet for coffee. To his associates' shock, he said, "How about tomorrow"...We met and talked for an hour...I peppered him with questions. What famous people had he met? What was it like to be Attorney General in the 60's? When I asked him who was the greatest person he'd ever met, he said, "I don't think of people in those terms." He went on to tell me something I'll never forget. "Don't ever seek to be the greatest. Seek instead to do great things. If you aspire to greatness, your greatness will die with you. But if you aspire to do great things, your legacy will live on. The only way to do this is by being a servant. Lead by serving and you'll do great things." I was too young in the faith to know he'd taken those words from Scripture...Jesus was the embodiment of servant leadership. He didn't just tell the disciples what they should do, he did it along with them...As I left the hotel that morning and waited to cross the street, a blind man with a seeing-eye dog came up alongside me. I stared at the beautiful Lab...his senses alert, his sole purpose in life to serve his...master. Then the light turned green and gently the dog led [him] across the street...God had sent me a living parable. I learned a lesson that morning I would never forget. Pursue great things, not greatness; lead by serving
Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:21 AM
'...in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' Genesis 12:3
In order to bless all the families of the earth, Abraham had to start with his own family. Before a man could qualify for leadership in the New Testament church, they examined his home life (1Timothy 3:5). Their thinking was, 'If he doesn't succeed there, don't enlarge his territory.' But if you're going to enjoy God's blessing as a family you must learn to cope with difficulties. So: 1) Try to remember that you're all on the same team. Don't take your frustrations out on your loved ones. Too often, home is where we go when we're tired of being 'nice.' 2) Before you speak, get the facts. Nothing's more damaging than jumping to conclusions. 'Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything' (Proverbs 13:3 NLT). 3) Handle it with wisdom. List all your options and you'll be more objective. That's how you'd handle a problem at work; why not do the same with your family? 4) Find something good in the situation. Scott Peck writes, 'It's only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It's through the pain of confronting them that we learn.' No matter how bad things seem, every situation holds something positive-look for it. 5) Make sure they know you love them. It's okay to express how you feel so long as you do it graciously. But make sure your family knows you love them. When people feel loved they can weather almost any crisis. Think: when do you need God's love most? When you deserve it least! Try to follow suit.
Bible in a Year: Jos 8:30 - 10:43; John 14:26 - 15:4; Ps 146; Pr 28:9-12;
Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:33 PM
'...that Satan might not outwit us...' 2 Corinthians 2:11
Addressing a worldwide convention of demons, satan told them: 'As long as Christians stay close to God we've no power over them, so: 1) Keep them busy with non-essentials. 2) Tempt them to overspend and go into debt. 3) Make them work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles. 4) Discourage them from spending family time, for when homes disintegrate there's no refuge from work. 5) Overstimulate their minds with television and computers so that they can't hear God speaking to them. 6) Fill their coffee tables and nightstands with newspapers and magazines so they've no time for Bible reading. 7) Flood their letter boxes with sweepstakes, promotions and get-rich-quick schemes; keep them chasing material things. 8) Put glamorous models on TV and on magazine covers to keep them focused on outward appearances; that way they'll be dissatisfied with themselves and their mates. 9) Make sure couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy; that way they'll be tempted to look elsewhere. 10) Emphasise Santa and the Easter Bunny; that way you'll divert them from the real meaning of the holidays. 11) Involve them in 'good' causes so they won't have any time for 'eternal' ones. 12) Make them self-sufficient. Keep them so busy working in their own strength that they'll never know the joy of God's power working through them. Do these twelve things faithfully. I promise-it'll work!' Have you figured out the difference between being busy and being successful in what God's called you to do? Sometimes being B-U-S-Y just means Being Under Satan's Yoke!
Bible in a Year: Jos 14-15; John 15:18-27; Ps 65; Pr 28:17-20
Posted 03 December 2010 - 01:48 PM
'...God has arranged the parts...just as he wanted them...' 1 Corinthians 12:18
Ever tried to complete a jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing? It changes the end result, doesn't it? In the church God is building today, everyone has a place. Paul writes, '...the whole building...fitted together, is growing...' (Ephesians 2:21 NAS). A bundle of sticks is stronger than a single twig. So, '...in Christ we...form one body, and each member belongs to all the others' (Romans 12:5 NIV). A non-serving Christian is a contradiction in terms. In Nehemiah's day, the Tekoites were farmers who helped repair the wall, '...but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work' (Nehemiah 3:5 NRS). Bricklaying wasn't part of their job description, so they let others do the heavy lifting. We all know people who subscribe to that philosophy! Never underestimate the significance of your assignment. '...parts...that seem...least important are...the most necessary' (1Corinthians12:22 NLT). Think about who's more important: a world leader or a sanitation worker. When Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981, although he was the leader of the free world, it was 'business as usual' for the nation. Conversely, when Philadelphia refuse collectors went on strike the city descended into chaos as piles of rotting refuse built up everywhere. The point is, you don't have to be a seminary graduate to pray and read the Bible, or a prophet to hear from God, or a specialist to minister to hurting people. To do great things for God, be faithful in little ones (Luke 16:10). Until you are willing to serve time on the assembly line, God can't promote you to management!
Bible in a Year: Jos 16:1 - 19:23; John 16:1-11; Ps 130; Pr 28:21-24
We All Matter (2) 04 Dec 2010
'How good...when [people] live together in unity.' Psalm 133:1
Synergy is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And creating positive synergy means having the right people, in the right place, at the right time, focusing on the right goal. After World War II, Chester Nimitz, Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, wanted to keep alive public interest in naval aviation. As a result the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron was created and performed its first exhibition within the year. To this day the team has clear objectives. They select only qualified candidates who consistently operate at peak performance. After being carefully screened, a pilot must receive sixteen votes from the existing members. If one votes no, the candidate is out of the running. No reasons or explanations required-that's the level of trust and respect the members have for one another's judgment. As a Blue Angel your teammates become like your family, and when a new member is enlisted you're entrusting him with your life. Making the squad isn't a one-shot deal either. You're responsible for playing your part, demonstrating your value and pursuing excellence on a daily basis. You have to earn the right to wear the crest. Nothing short of total commitment is accepted. So, would you qualify to be a Blue Angel? Are you a sole-trader or a team player? Are you loyal and reliable? When the chips are down, can others rely on you to put their interests ahead of your own?
Bible in a Year: Jos 19:24 - 21:45; John 16:12-18; Ps 2; Pr 28:25-28;
Posted 06 December 2010 - 06:25 PM
'...in honor giving preference to one another.' Romans 12:10
It's said that William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were great leaders but intense rivals. Gladstone, leader of the Liberal Party, is considered by many to personify the best qualities of Victorian England. A career public servant, he was a great orator, master of finance, and a staunchly moral man. He was made Prime Minister of Great Britain four different times, the only person in history to achieve that honour. Under his leadership Great Britain established a national education system, instituted parliamentary reform and saw the vote given to a significant number of people in the working classes. Disraeli, who served twice as Prime Minister, had a different kind of background. In his thirties he entered politics and built a reputation as a diplomat and social reformer. His greatest accomplishment was masterminding Britain's purchase of the Suez Canal. Both men accomplished much. But what really separated them was their approach to people! The difference can be best illustrated by a story told by a young woman who dined with each of the two rival statesmen on consecutive nights. When asked for her impression of them, she said, 'When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.' There's an important lesson here. Good leaders win the confidence, trust and friendship of people they lead by taking the spotlight off themselves and putting it on others. In fact, this principle will work for anybody. It's why the Bible says, '...in honour giving preference to one another.' (Romans 12:10 NKJV)
Bible in a Year: Jos 22-24; John 16:19-33; Ps 147:1-11; Pr 29:1-5
Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:57 AM
'...do not...be anxious about tomorrow...' Matthew 6:34
Most of the stuff we worry about never happens, or turns out better than we anticipate. Worry, like faith, is a spiritual force. Like a magnet, it attracts the very things we fear, clouds our judgment and distorts our perspective. God never intended us to carry tomorrow's burdens along with today's. So, here are three steps to help you conquer worry: 1) Replace it. Telling somebody not to worry doesn't work. Worry is like an emotional spasm; the only way to break it is to replace it. '...whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things' (Philippians 4:8 NIV). In other words, switch the channel! 2) Dissect it. '...fear involves torment...' (1 John 4:18 NKJV). Worry torments you; your imagination runs amok, conjuring up all kinds of scary scenarios. But it's also illogical; when you take it apart rationally and systemically, it loses its power to control you. 3) Rise above it. A well-known pastor was flying over the Mississippi River one day when the sky grew dark. 'We can't see where we're going!' he exclaimed. Calmly the pilot replied, 'We just need to rise above the ground heat, dust and smoke.' After climbing another 1,000 feet they emerged into a clear, beautiful world. Corrie Ten Boom called faith 'the radar that pierces through the fog.' When worry tries to fog you in, you can rise above it by placing your trust in the Lord. '...those who trust in the Lord...will soar...like eagles...' (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).
Bible in a Year: Col 3-4; Philemon; John 17:13-26; Ps 148:1-6; Pr 29:11-15
Posted 15 December 2010 - 04:26 AM
'...I have walked in...integrity...' Psalm 26:1
To protect themselves from the barbaric hordes from the north, the people of China built the Great Wall. It was so high nobody could climb over it and so thick nobody could break through it, so they settled back to enjoy life. During the first hundred years of the wall's existence, China was invaded three different times. Not once did the enemy try to break down the wall or climb over it; they simply bribed the gatekeeper and marched in. While those who built it were relying on their wall of stone, they neglected to teach integrity to their children. As a result they grew up without moral and spiritual principles to guide them. Have you ever watched a big tree fall while others around it stood tall? How come the same storm that builds strength in one, topples another? You'll find the answer in the tree's core and roots. Getting the idea? When it comes to building integrity, here are some questions you should ask yourself regularly: 1) Am I the same, no matter who I'm with? 2) Am I willing to make decisions that are best for others, even though another choice would benefit me more? 3) Can I be counted on to keep the commitments I've made to God, myself and others? Can you say like the Psalmist, 'Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity...'? (Psalm 26:1 KJV) Life is like a vice: at times it will squeeze you. In those moments whatever is inside will come out. Image-building and self-interest promise much but produce little, but integrity never disappoints. So, work on your integrity.
Bible in a Year: Micah 5-7; John 19:30-42; Ps 105:23-36; Pr 30:15-19;
Posted 16 December 2010 - 04:38 PM
'May integrity...protect me...' Psalm 25:21
Though repeatedly tempted by Potiphar's wife, Joseph said no. Faced with similar circumstances, David said yes. But the story doesn't end there. David married Bathsheba; when their son Solomon grew up 'He had seven hundred wives...and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.' (1Kings 11:3 NIV). Integrity may not seem like a big deal now, but your lack of it will have far-reaching consequences. Integrity means keeping commitments, even though the circumstances in which you made them have changed. One leader points out that when integrity is the referee, your lips and your life will be in agreement. Your beliefs will be mirrored by your behaviour. There'll be no discrepancy between what you appear to be and what you are, whether in good times or bad. Integrity is not only the referee between opposing value systems, it's the decision maker between being at peace and being fragmented within. It frees you to become a whole person no matter what comes your way. There's a story about a job applicant who was asked why he was discharged from his last position. He replied, 'Because I wanted to take work home with me.' When asked who he worked for, he replied, 'The First National Bank.' We smile, but in a recent survey of employees, 55% said they didn't trust their top management. Are you trustworthy? Will Rogers said: 'People's minds are changed through observation, not argument. People do what people see. What they hear, they understand; what they see, they believe and follow.' That's why a corrected and contrite Psalmist prayed, 'Guard my life...let me not be put to shame...May integrity...protect me...' (Psalm 25:20-21 NIV).
Bible in a Year: 2 Tim 1-4; John 20:1-9; Ps 105:37-45; Pr 30:20-23;
Posted 17 December 2010 - 04:57 PM
'...I have called you by your name; You are Mine.' Isaiah 43:1
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, 'Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, 'I know you.' How wonderful is that? Take a moment and consider the things in life that rob us of self-esteem. Words such as, 'I don't want you; I don't love you anymore.' Or 'You're unsuitable for the job; sorry, we have to let you go.' Or, 'You keep making the same stupid mistakes. You'll never get it right.' Or, 'Why can't you be like your brother, or your sister, or so-and-so?' Understand this: 1) Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you do for a living. Because when you can no longer do it you'll feel worthless. Think about some of the famous people you know: athletes, artists, speakers, etc. When they can no longer do what they do they often get depressed, even suicidal. 2) Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you own. Recently the U.S. housing market lost up to 40% of its value in one year. Millions of people saw their social status go down and their financial security go up in smoke. 3) Your self-esteem cannot be based on other people's opinion because it will always make you vulnerable to rejection. What's the solution? Discover what God thinks about you and build your life on it. '...thus says the Lord, who created you...who...redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.'(Isaiah 43:1 NKJV) It doesn't get any better than that!
Bible in a Year: Zech 1-4; John 20:10-18; Ps 57; Pr 30:24-28;
Posted 20 December 2010 - 05:51 AM
'...God has come to test you...' Exodus 20:20
Do you remember the tests you took in school? You passed or failed, but you couldn't avoid them. Life works that way too. When it comes to life's tests-you must prepare yourself in advance! Jesus said: '...a wise man...built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall...a foolish man...built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall' (Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV). The first man built his house on rock because he knew it wasn't a question of 'if,' but 'when,' a storm will come. The second man built his house on sand because it was cheap and easy. When the storm came the first man's house stood and the second man's house fell. What's the point Jesus was making? Your talents, your r?sum? and your reputation may get you to the top, but if you haven't built strong character you won't stay there long. Furthermore, your beliefs may be sincere and line up with what other people around you think, but unless they're founded on God's Word they'll fail you when you need them most. Three times in the Bible we read, '...The just shall live by faith' (Romans 1:17 NKJV). When the tests of life come you've got to be able to rise up and say, 'I may not have all the answers, but I have proven God's character and track record and I'm trusting Him to do what He's promised in His Word!'
Bible in a Year: Zech 5-8; John 20:19-31; Ps 67; Pr 30:29-33;
Life Will Test You (2) 19 Dec 2010
'...God has come to test you...' Exodus 20:20
God told His people: '...the Lord your God led you...these forty years in the wilderness, to...test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not' (Deuteronomy 8:2 NKJV). The tests of life reveal how well you take instruction, what you've learned, and what you'll do in any given set of circumstances. What you've been taught is only theory, until it's been tested. And life will test you! Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a bird named Chippy: 'Chippy the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage singing, the next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. His problem began when his owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum. She stuck the nozzle in to suck up the seeds and feathers at the bottom of the cage. Then the phone rang. Instinctively she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said 'hello' when-sswwwwPPPPP! Chippy got sucked in. She gasped, let the phone drop, and snapped off the vacuum. With her heart in her mouth, she unzipped the bag. There was Chippy-alive, but stunned-covered with heavy black dust. She grabbed him and rushed to the bathtub, turned on the faucet full blast and held Chippy under a torrent of ice-cold water, power-washing him clean. Then she did what any compassionate pet owner would do: she snatched up the hairdryer and blasted the wet, shivering little bird with hot air.' Swindoll closes his story with these words: 'Chippy doesn't sing much any more.' Life will test you, but don't let it steal your song!
Bible in a Year: Jer 31:31-37; Heb 8:1-13; 2 Cor 3:1;
Life Will Test You (3) 20 Dec 2010
'...God has come to test you...' Exodus 20:20
Do you remember your school days? When you were being tested the teacher was silent. The Bible says: '...Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him...When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and...He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night [just before the dawn] he went out to them,walking on the lake...They cried out, because they...were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed' (Mark 6:45-51 NIV). This story teaches that: 1) Being in the will of God requires you to go through storms. 'Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all' (Psalm 34:19KJV). 2) When you can't see Him, His eye is still on you. You are never out of His sight, His care or His reach. 3) He will never give you an assignment you can complete without His help, so don't try it alone. 4) If you let it, fear will cloud your thinking and keep you from recognising Him when He comes to you. 5) First He will speak to you, then to the circumstances that threaten you. When He does, you'll experience supernatural peace. 6) When your boat is 'in the middle' of the storm, the best is yet to come! 7) The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Rejoice! The sun will shine again; God won't fail you.
Bible in a Year: Zech 9-11; John 21:1-14; Ps 12; Pr 31:1-5;
Posted 26 December 2010 - 12:33 PM
'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted....' Psalm 34:18
When you find yourself alone at Christmas, the sights and sounds that once brought joy can reinforce your sense of sadness and loss. There is no magic, get-well-quick formula; processing what you've lost takes time and God's sustaining grace. But here are some insights to help you: 1) Don't assume. Don't buy into the myth that everybody else is having a perfect Christmas while you struggle. The truth is, we all experience the unrealistic demands and pressures of shopping, entertaining and gift-giving. And it's worse in times of heartache. That's why we're so relieved when it's over. 2) It's just one day out of 365. You can handle it for twenty four hours because God has promised to give you '...strength...equal [to] your days' (Deuteronomy33:25 NIV). 3) Take the focus off yourself. Reach out. See if there's a needy family or a hurting acquaintance who'd enjoy spending an hour with you. It'll probably be the last thing you feel like doing, but it is therapeutic, restores your perspective and brings a sense of wellbeing and gratitude. 4) Start some new traditions, especially when old ones just make you feel worse. '...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead' (Philippians 3:13 NKJV). If you're feeling lonely, here's a prayer for you. 'Lord, you know my heart aches today. Your Word says You are close to the brokenhearted. Let me feel Your nearness. Become more real to me than the activity without and the emptiness within. Help me draw close to You, and in so doing make this Christmas like none I've ever known.'
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 2:21-38;
Posted 29 December 2010 - 05:36 AM
'...we become more and more like him.' 2 Corinthians 3:18
Becoming more Christ-like doesn't mean losing your individuality and being a mindless clone. God created the characteristics that make you unique, so He certainly doesn't want to destroy them. Christ-likeness is about transforming your character, not your personality. Paul writes, '...take on an entirely new way of life - a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you' (Ephesians 4:22-24 TM). Every time you forget that character, not comfort, is God's first priority in your life you become frustrated and wonder, 'Why is all this happening to me? Why doesn't God do something about it?' Abundant life isn't the absence of adversity, it is growth in the midst of it. 'As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.' You say, 'Yes, but how does this happen in real life?' Through our choices - we choose to do the right thing, then trust God's Spirit to give us the power, love, faith and wisdom to do it. Since His Spirit lives inside us, these things are available for the asking. But when you ask Him and God tells you what to do, you must obey Him. When Joshua stood at the River Jordan, its floodwaters only receded after he stepped in. Obedience unlocks God's power! God waits for you to act on His instructions. You can't wait until you feel capable or confident, you must move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears. That's how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and how Christ-like character is developed in you.
Bible in a Year: 1 Cor 12-14; Matt 2:16-23; Ps 139:13-24; Pr 31:28-29;
Posted 30 December 2010 - 07:42 AM
'...we become more and more like him.' 2 Corinthians 3:18
Spiritual growth could be compared to a seed, a building, and a child. Each requires our participation. When planted, seeds must be watered, fertilised and protected. When erected, buildings must be maintained. When born, children must be cared for, taught and disciplined. Getting the idea? Now, effort has nothing to do with your salvation, but it has everything to do with your spiritual growth. You can't just sit around and hope to evolve into spiritual maturity. Paul explains our three responsibilities in becoming more like Christ: 1)Deciding: '...everything - connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it!...' (Ephesians 4:22 TM). We must decide each day to let go of our old ways. 2) Renewing: '...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...' (Romans 12:2 NKJV). The Greek word for transformed is 'metamorphosis,' which describes the amazing way in which a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. It's a picture of what happens when we spend time in prayer, feed on God's Word and allow Him to direct our thoughts. As we take on the beauty of Christ's character we begin to grow and soar to new heights. 3) Clothing: We must clothe ourselves each day with the character of Christ. How do you do that? By developing new habits. Your character is made up of the sum of your daily habits. What you do, you become! So, '...put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness' (Ephesians 4:24 NIV). To become Christ-like you must commit yourself to doing these three things.
Bible in a Year: 1 Cor 15-16; Matt 3:1-10; Ps 116; Pr 31:30-31;
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