STRENGTH

‘Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.’

Isaiah 40:31 NIV

When we’re working for God’s kingdom and serving Him, we can feel amazing because we’re doing some of the things God’s called us to do. But we can also become exhausted, disillusioned and stressed. We can put extra pressure on ourselves because we’re working for, and serving, God, and we think that we must do everything we possibly can for Him. It’s great to have a good work ethic, and to want to do what we can for God. But we can’t give Him, and others, our best when we’re burnt out. The fact is, we can’t fill an empty bucket from a dry well. In order to keep giving out we must keep our batteries charged spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And that doesn’t just mean we need to stop and rest, although that’s really important.

It means we need to rely on God’s strength, and not our own. When we try and do everything in our own strength, it’s easy for us to become exhausted and even resentful of what we’re doing, and who we’re doing it for. We need to recognise our dependence on God and ask Him for strength. The Bible says: ‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ That’s a great promise. When we’re feeling run down and tired, we know we’ve always got a source of strength we can go to. Eagles don’t just fly, they soar high above the storms below. And when we go to God for the strength we need, we’re told we will ‘soar on wings like eagles’. With our own strength we may be able to fly for a while, but with God’s strength we can soar for a lifetime.

What Now?

Head online and research how eagles can soar above the storms. Then ask God to give you the strength you need to soar above any storms you’re facing right now.

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 6-8, 2 Thessalonians 1

FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF BIBLICAL FORGIVENESS  

”Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

Biblical forgiveness is not a cheap term you just throw around that instantly makes everybody feel better. That’s not real forgiveness.

The Bible says there are four characteristics to biblical forgiveness:

Forgiveness is remembering how much you’ve been forgiven.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). This is the starting point for genuine forgiveness. If you don’t feel forgiven, you won’t want to forgive anybody else. If you’re hard on yourself, you’re going to be hard on others. But the more grace you receive from God, the more gracious you’re going to be with others. The more forgiven you feel by God, the more forgiving you’ll be toward others.

Forgiveness is relinquishing your right to get even.

Romans 12:19 says, “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (TLB). Life is not fair, but one day God’s going to settle the score. He’s going to right the wrongs. So, who can get better justice—you or God?

Forgiveness is responding to evil with good.

The Bible says in Luke 6:27-28, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (NIV). How can you tell when you’ve really forgiven somebody? When you can look at that person’s hurt and not just your own, and pray for God to bless him or her.

You ask, “How could I ever do that for the person who’s hurt me?” You can’t unless you allow the love of God to penetrate your life. Only the love of God can help you do something like that.

Forgiveness is repeating the process as long as necessary.

“Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT). Jewish law said you had to forgive a person three times, so Peter doubled it and threw one in for good measure. But Jesus said to go even further with your forgiveness

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

SETTING BOUNDARIES AGAINST TEMPTATION

2 Timothy 2:20-22

Do you have a sin that you simultaneously hate and love? You really want to overcome it, but as soon as you’re tempted, the anticipated pleasure erases all your willpower. These love/hate temptations are what cause us the greatest struggle, but sometimes part of the problem is our lack of boundaries.

Although we’ll never be totally free from temptation, we can take steps to protect ourselves—namely, we can establish practices and boundaries to guard us from wandering into a danger zone. When Scripture addresses this topic, it presents two contrasting instructions.

Flee lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2 Tim. 2:22). The goal isn’t simply to resist temptation, but to move as far as possible in the opposite direction, toward godliness.

Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). Trying to withstand temptation is futile unless we first commit to living obediently before God. With submission comes the power to resist.

Don’t conform to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind (Rom. 12:2). If we fill our head with the ideas and priorities of the culture, we’ll be easy targets for temptation. But Ephesians 6:17 calls God’s Word our “sword of the Spirit”—a weapon we can use for defense against the enemy’s attacks.

God showed us the boundaries behind which we are safe. He’s warned that if we toy with our cravings and place ourselves in the way of temptation, we will fall. So draw near to God (James 4:8) and the protection of His Word, wisdom, and power.

 

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 23-25

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

A Murderer at Heart

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. – (Ephesians 4:31)

Many of us would never murder a person, but we may wish someone were dead. Have you ever hated anyone? Let me rephrase the question: Have you ever driven on a freeway anywhere ?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:21–22).

We also read in 1 John 3:15, “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” The word used here for hate means “to habitually despise.” It is not just a transient emotion of the affections but a deep-rooted loathing.

We all lose our temper at times. I don’t think the Bible is saying that if you get angry and honk at someone, then you are a murderer. No, you are just a honker, and maybe you shouldn’t have lost your temper. The hatred the Bible is speaking of here is a deep-rooted loathing. It’s an attitude that says, “I hate your guts. When you walk into a room, I just seethe. I boil. I would like to see you destroyed. I sit around and think of ways that I could hurt you.”

Guess what? That is like murdering a person, and that is a sin before God.

So even if we have never committed the physical act of murder, the reality is that we still can be murderers in our hearts.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Greg Laurie Daily Devotional

 

 

RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN

‘Be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.’ – Colossians 3:10 NLT

When we become a Christian, things in our lives change. We change some of our behaviour; we stop doing certain things and start doing others. We change the way we might speak, and most importantly, we begin to change the way we think. Why is this the most important? If we don’t change our thinking, our actions and words will soon return to how they were before. When we retrain our brain, our actions and words will follow suit.

Changing how we think doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. The Bible says: ‘Be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.’ The more we learn about Jesus, the more we transform and change to be like Him. As we learn what God thinks about us, we begin to change our thoughts to think about ourselves like that too. As we learn what Jesus would do in a situation, we begin to think like Him too. Romans 12:2 says: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will’ (NIV).

So how do we renew our mind? We need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word so that we know how He thinks about things. The Bible even tells us some things we should be focusing our thinking on: ‘Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected’ (Philippians 4:8-9 NCV). And we can always ask Him to help bring our thoughts into line with His.

What Now?

Throughout the day, try and weigh up some of your thoughts. Are they good, worthy of praise, true, honourable , right, pure, beautiful, and respected?

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Word for You.

A RIVER OF LIVING WATER

John 7:37-39

If you’ve ever lived in a desert or experienced a long-term drought, you understand how essential water is. Without it, plants dry up, crops fail, animals languish with thirst, and before long the ground cracks and dust starts to blow. Sometimes, this is how life feels, too—dry, fruitless, unsatisfying, and futile.

But this should not be the case for believers. Even if the externals of life resemble a drought, inside we have the ever-flowing living water of the Holy Spirit. Of all the word pictures employed in the Bible to depict the Spirit, a river of living water ranks among the most powerful. He is seen as the source of vitality and abundance in our lives. Like a continually moving stream, He flows through us, performing His sanctifying work of transforming us into the image of Christ.

Getting to know the Spirit is a lifelong process. As we walk in obedience to Him, we experience both His quiet guidance through life’s challenges and His power displayed in our weakness. We marvel when He brings to light a passage of Scripture and find solace in His comfort when we’re hurting. His convictions guide us to repentance so we can be cleansed with living water. And His promptings and warnings keep us from heading down the wrong path.

Because the life-giving Spirit dwells within us, no Christian has to live a dry, fruitless life. Of course, if we opt to live as we please and indulge in sin, we’ll quench Him. But the more we learn of Him in Scripture and walk with Him in obedience, the more His life will flow through us.

 

STAY BLESSED

COMMIT TO LIVING BY YOUR VALUES

“[Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:26 NIV).

The first resolution: Choose to be who God wants you to be. The second resolution: Choose short-term pain for long-term gain.

And then Moses made a third life-shaping resolution: He chose God’s values, not the world’s. And that’s why God used him!

Hebrews 11:26 says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (NIV).

Moses made a value judgment. He clarified what mattered most to him.

Let me ask you: What matters most in your life? What are the top three or four values in your life? Can you name them easily?

If you ask me, I’ll tell you quite simply what they are for me: integrity, humility, and generosity. I decided more than 30 years ago that I wanted to build my life on integrity, humility, and generosity because they’re the antidotes to the three traps of leadership.

Can you name the three most important values in your life right now? If you can’t, then you certainly can’t live by them. You’re not living your values if you can’t even name them. Before you go one more day, you need to sit down and ask, “What’s most important to me? What are the top values in my life?” And you need to write them out, because until you clarify your values, you can’t live by them.

Moses chose God’s values over the world’s values. Why is this so important? Because if you don’t decide what’s important in your life, other people are going to decide for you. They’re going to push you into their mold. And you’re going to live your life by their values, not yours.

STAY BLESSED

MEMORY BANK OF FAITH

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4 (NLT)

It had been a long drive, and my stomach was growling like a bear. Since I’m a don’t-stop-until-you-get-home driver, I decided to enjoy the drive-thru dining experience. I called out my order into the bulky box, drove around the building and received my meal from a kind lady. Before I drove away, she said, “I just love your scarf!”

With an “Aw, thank you,” I prepared to drive away, but I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to give the woman my scarf. Rather than immediately obeying — and in total disregard for the patrons behind me — I took my sweet time and put up an argument.

Why, Lord? She doesn’t need this scarf. It won’t even match what she is wearing. Please. No. It’s my favorite.

Despite my stalling, I eventually came to terms with what God was asking me to do. Like yanking a bandage off a wound, I pulled my scarf from around my neck and politely handed it to the cashier. With a forced grin and clenched teeth, I said, “Here, I’d like you to have it.”

I was secretly hoping she’d say, “Oh no, I can’t,” so I could get credit for the obedience (pitiful, I know). But she smiled and said, “Thank you so much.” I drove away with my food and without my scarf. But the sacrifice of a scarf was nothing compared to what I’d deposited in my “Memory Bank of Faith.”

Building Spirit-filled trust works like receiving money. Each time we receive funds, we deposit the money in our bank account, where it remains until we need it. Our Memory Bank of Faith works the same way. As we obey, we experience God’s faithfulness.

We deposit His acts of faithfulness in our bank; then, when He asks us to do something we don’t understand, or maybe don’t want to do (like give away a scarf), we can make a withdrawal from our Memory Bank and confidently obey. Having previously experienced His faithfulness, we know that what He has asked us to do is completely trustworthy — even if it involves something unexpected.

You might be thinking, if obedience means giving away my favorite things, then I’m not sure I want to participate.

Yet as we begin to naturally respond to God with yes, we will realize that what we sacrifice or give away doesn’t mean nearly as much as obeying God. I wrestled with my initial reactions and desires to obey. I was tempted to hold on to my wishes rather than harness myself to God’s ways. It’s okay to wrestle with our reactions, but God longs for our final response to be yes. We can never go wrong when we say yes to God.

In the drive-thru, I was given the opportunity to obey the Spirit’s nudge and follow God’s Word, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4).

The next time the Holy Spirit nudges your heart to help a senior adult move her groceries to her car, assist a mom in carrying her family’s food to the restaurant table, or drive past the close parking space so another person can park near the door, obey. Each time you do, you make another deposit in your Memory Bank of Faith and experience God anew.

I’ll be the first to admit, trusting God through obedience can be fearsome, because we never know what He will ask us to do … even while ordering lunch at a drive-thru.

Lord, I long to participate in the work You are doing around me. Quicken my ears to hear You. Stir my heart to obey You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

John 14:15, “If you love me, you will do what I command.” (ERV)

John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (NLT)

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Encouragement for Today.

TODAY IS YOUR BEST DAY BECAUSE OF FAITH: WALK BY FAITH

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’. ROMANS 1:17 KJV

There are two ways that we can walk through a day. One is to walk by sight and the other is to walk by faith. If we walk by sight we can easily become discouraged, disappointed, and downhearted. To walk by sight means to evaluate our day by what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and know in our minds. To walk by sight means to allow the “reality” around us to impact our thoughts, our motivation, and our emotions.

To walk by faith means to walk in a different kind of reality. The Bible tells us that there are two realities (II Corinthians 4:17–18). One reality is what is seen; the other reality is what is unseen. There are two realities because there are two worlds. One is the physical world; the other is the spiritual world. The physical world is the temporary world; the spiritual world is the eternal world.

As you walk through this day in both worlds, God wants you to live by faith and not by sight.

Faith sees what your physical eyes can never see;

Faith knows what your natural mind can never comprehend;

Faith possesses what your physical arms can never hold.

Faith says “yes” to everything God declares to be true;

Faith stands upon everything God says is certain, it leans upon everything God says is unmovable, and it counts upon everything God says will come to pass.

He shall strengthen your heart. Psalm 31:24 NKJV

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Dayspring Devotionals.

God’s Promises Build Our Faith

2 Peter 1:3-4

God’s promises are very precious. Not only do they remind us of His personal interest in our lives, but they also provide hope and encouragement during difficult times.

Before claiming a promise, we must check ourselves in three areas: faith, obedience, and patience. First, we must trust Jesus as our personal Savior and live on the basis of our belief in Him. Obeying God is also necessary. If we willfully continue to disobey the Lord, then He is not obligated to fulfill His promise (1 Peter 3:12). Finally, patience is required. God operates on His timetable to accomplish His purposes according to His perfect plan. Waiting on Him is necessary.

At times it will seem as if a divine promise is not being fulfilled. When that is the case, take a second look at the biblical passage to be sure it applies to you. Then verify that you have met the necessary conditions, and examine whether there is a genuine need. If you are still convinced the promise applies, then you can look a little deeper at your request. Will the Lord be honored when this promise is fulfilled? Can He answer this prayer without harming others or hindering His will in their lives? Will this help you grow spiritually? These additional questions will assist you in claiming a promise of God.

The Holy Spirit is our instructor, who will teach us about the Lord’s promises. He wants to build our faith through Scripture, provide the strength necessary to obey, and develop in us the fruit of patience. These qualities are necessary and will help us as we look to God to fulfill His promises.

Bible in One Year: Luke 8-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAY BLESSED