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

Adjusting to the Lord’s Plan

Read Matthew 4:18-22

I have been a Christian for many years, and not once has God asked me, “Charles, what do you want to do?” The Lord doesn’t change His plans to suit my purposes or yours. Instead, He asks us to adjust our lives to align with His will.

One change He often requires has to do with lifestyle. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen before they became Jesus’ disciples. Their lives revolved around the details of their occupation—equipment repair, weather conditions, catching fish, and turning a profit. But when Jesus called them to become fishers of men, they willingly and suddenly made a dramatic change.

In contrast, the rich young ruler walked away sad when he realized what he’d have to give up to follow Christ (Matthew 19:21-22). An invitation from the Lord usually means modifying our way of living. Whether this involves switching jobs or altering habits, God expects us to adapt to His plan.

At times the Lord may call for a shift in our relationships. Before being invited to travel in Jesus’ company, James and John worked in the family business with their father. Saying yes to God meant seeing friends and relatives less frequently. Pursuing His plan may mean the same thing for us. But Christ promises a great return on any sacrifice we make (v. 29).

Our heavenly Father’s plans are based upon His goodness, justice, and mercy. Because of His perfect character, we can trust the direction He gives us. Adjusting to God’s design—accepting His will and making the needed changes in our circumstances and relationships—is always the wisest action we can take (Proverbs 3:5-6).

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

BE NUMBERED AMONG THE UNDEVOURABLE

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

The devil cannot just walk right up to you and rob you of your health, peace or family. He cannot just come into your life to enforce disease and destruction.

If the devil can do that, then he does not have to walk about “seeking whom he may devour”. He only has to walk straight up to anyone he wants to devour and devour him! But since the Bible says that he goes about seeking whom he may devour, the truth then is that there are people whom he cannot devour.

You see, the devil goes about like a roaring lion trying to stir up fear in people with his roars. But the people who are not devourable are those who refuse to be intimidated by his roars because they know that the true Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ (Revelation 5:5), has already come and rendered powerless him who had the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14, NASB) They know that the devil cannot just do anything to them because the Lion of Judah resides in them, and that He is greater than the devil who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

My friend, the Lion of Judah is in you. He has given you rights, privileges, authority and power. He redeemed you with His blood. Therefore, everything about you and your life is redeemed by His blood. So if you are fearful about losing your job, cover your job with the blood of Jesus. If you are worried about your children’s safety in these days of terrorist attacks, plead the blood of Jesus over them. If you have received a bad report from the doctor, speak the blood over yourself.

Whatever you have covered with the blood of Jesus, God declares, “Protected! Redeemed!” And the devil flees when he sees the blood. And when he flees, he takes with him sicknesses, diseases, pains, sufferings, destruction and loss.

Once the devil knows that you know who you are in Christ and what you have in Him, his days of intimidating you are over, and you are numbered among the undevourable.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Joseph Prince Ministries.

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.

SPIRITUALLY NOURISHED

‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven.’

John 6:51 NIV

We all know that diet is important. Diet can play a huge role in how healthy we are. We’re often told the foods we should eat more of and the foods we should eat less of. But we also need to take our spiritual diet seriously. Jesus said: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.’ Just as what we eat influences our physical health, what we’re feeding on spiritually also influences how we act, think and behave. When we focus on feeding ourselves spiritually, we grow spiritually. So what are we consuming?

Do we spend our time watching reality TV, reading gossip-filled magazines, listening to music with explicit lyrics or comparing our lives with others on social media? Are we focusing only on the physical food we’re eating? In the Old Testament, we’re told that ‘man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV). We need God’s Word in our lives. We need to be consuming His Word if we’re going to be spiritually full and spiritually nourished We need to spend time feeding on the Bible, conversation with God and with other Christians, worship music, teaching or books.

It doesn’t mean that we can’t watch TV, go on social media or listen to music that isn’t classed as ‘Christian music’. But what it does mean is that we need to be carefully looking at what we’re consuming and the effect it’s having on us. And it means we need to be building time into our days to feed ourselves spiritually as well as physically.

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

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SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries.

TAKE A STAND

‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.’ Proverbs 31:8 NIV

The Bible calls us to take a stand against things that are unjust. ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (vv.8-9). So, who is it that God’s calling us to stand up for? In the world today, there are plenty of people, and situations, who need someone to take a stand. We can take a stand against poverty, human trafficking, environmental damage, homelessness, and many more.

These can seem like huge issues to stand against. We can feel a bit unsure about what we, as individuals, can do to bring about change. The Bible gives us some handy advice: ‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8 NIV). We need to start by getting into God’s Word and asking Him to give us His heart for the people who can’t stand for themselves.

One of the greatest commands in the Bible is to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31 NIVUK). And part of loving those around us, is standing up for them when they can’t stand up for themselves. After that, we need to make sure our actions are just. Maybe we can buy ethical products or raise awareness of injustice through Social Media. Even though injustice is a massive issue in today’s society, we shouldn’t let the problem overwhelm us. Small steps and small actions can make a huge difference. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. And we can’t let what we can’t do, keep us from doing what we can.

What Now?

Ask God to place a specific situation or group of people on your heart. Then do some research as to how you can stand up for them.

Bible in a Year: Isaiah 45-46, Philippians 4

STAY BLESSED

A Confident Relationship

“Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me… Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm… At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me… But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” – 2 Timothy 4:10-17 NASB

Paul began his Christian life when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Others were present, but no one else heard Jesus’ voice. They just knew something dramatic had taken place, that Paul had become blind.

In Damascus, Paul met with Ananias, who gave Paul perspective, praying for him and giving him direction. Perhaps most importantly, he introduced Paul to the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:1-18).

While Paul learned much from other Believers, it was the strength of his personal relationship with God, through His Spirit, that gave his ministry unusual power and impact. Although he had moments of uncertainty, he always eventually found clarity and answers, and received God’s direction.

As Paul approached the end of his earthly ministry, we see why this pattern had become so important. He described to Timothy how he felt alone and abandoned. It seemed that “no one supported” him. He was opposed by people who once had been his friends and partners. Some (like Timothy and Mark) provided him with encouragement and companionship, but others deserted him.

Yet he knew that he could depend on the Lord, who “stood with me and strengthened me.” Because of this awareness of God’s presence, he could focus on his ministry and His call on his life.

The Bible makes it clear that all Believers are part of the Body of Christ. We are not to forsake our “assembling together” (Hebrews 10:25). Yet we each need to develop our personal relationship with Him.

Make sure that you are strong in your personal relationship with God. Seek to be so confident that you completely trust Him. That you know that He is with you. And remember. You are never alone.

Today’s Inspiration Prayer:
Father, I desire to know You better. I commit my life to You. Help me to serve You and please You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: 2 Timothy 4
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SOURCE: Culled from Inspiration Ministry.

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.

BREAK WITH THE PAST

‘She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.’

Mark 14:3 NIV

Remember the woman who anointed Jesus? ‘While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.’ She gave her most precious possession to Jesus.

Not only was it extremely valuable, it was also part of her appeal as a prostitute. Breaking it open was her way of breaking with her past. She was giving up her former life by giving that jar to Jesus. God wants to transform us. The Bible says: ‘And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

But we can often want God to transform us while we keep doing the same old thing. We want Him to change our circumstances without having to change us at all. We can’t expect growth and change when we refuse to hand our past over to God, to hand over the things that have taken His place as priority in our lives, and to hand over who we are in favor of who we could be. Most of us get stuck spiritually because we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Spiritual routines are a crucial part of spiritual growth, but when the routine becomes routine, we need to change it. What got us to where we are, may not get us to where God wants us to go next.

What Now?

Has your spiritual journey become mundane and routine? Think of some new, creative ways you can connect with God today. 

Bible in a Year: Song of Songs 1-3, 2 Corinthians 8

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