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November 2017

21 Nov – The happiest people are givers (Pt 4)

givers

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” (Winston Churchill)

Studies reveal that if you want to be more cheerful then become a giver, because givers are happier people than non-givers. Similarly, volunteers are more likely to be happier than non-volunteers and people who give are also less prone to sadness and depression than non-givers.

The difference in cheerfulness between givers and non-givers is not due to differences in their personal characteristics, income, circumstances or religion. Take two people who are identical in terms of their circumstances, social demographics, income and faith – one donates money and volunteers, while the other does not. The giver will be on average 11 percentage points more likely to be happier than the non-giver.

Giving is also known to lower stress hormones that cause unhappiness, as giving dramatically lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in our brains.

A number of studies have researched  why giving leads to happiness, and the conclusion is that giving affects our brain chemistry and releases endorphins that produce feelings of happiness. Psychologists refer to this as the “Helper’s High.” Essentially we are created and wired to give.

It makes sense that giving would cause our hearts to be glad and benefit our health for we are made in the image of God and His likeness; and He is a giver. We are wired by Him to be generous with our time, money, talents and energy and it’s only when we suffer harm or ill treatment that we can shut down our God given tendency to be a giver and lose this God given trait and the joy it generates in our life. However the closer we  draw to God and receive from Him, the more likely we are to be a giver and to become more cheerful and healthy in the process.

If you want to cultivate cheerfulness in your life then draw near to God; learn from Him and choose to be a giver. Look for ways every day to give. It doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; it could be an encouraging word, a helping hand or the giving of our skills and knowledge to someone who needs it. Sometimes the small things we do can mean everything in another person’s life and it not only benefits them, but us too.

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25)

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) 

Prayer: Lord thank you for making me a giver. Help me to make the most of my potential to give and to tap into the joy that giving brings to my life. Please show me where and how to give today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

20 Nov – Being cheerful – changing our perspective (Pt 3)

being cheerful - change your perpective Pt 3

There is a secret to living in cheerfulness that is hidden in the words of Proverbs 15:15. It says, “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil (by anxious thoughts and forebodings), but he who has a cheerful heart has a continual feast (regardless of circumstances). (Proverbs 15:15)

God promises it is possible for us to have a continual feast; having a constant satisfaction and delight in all conditions, even in affliction. The cheerful person’s condition is a banquet unceasingly, a fixed state of joy and contentment, being at peace always.”

In contrast are those who takes a gloomy view of things and who are always in low spirits. It is, the bible says as if “all the days of the afflicted are evil.” The “afflicted” here means not one who has to bear great misfortunes or difficult outward circumstances but a person who has a troubled and downcast spirit, making the worst of everything. God is cautioning us against this over-anxiety and walking in fearful anticipation instead of faith because it will steal our joy and cheerful view of life.

God knows that there are many things that can afflict us, but in response to such afflictions He said to give no thought to such things and instead to seek Him and His way of doing things. Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? … Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:25-33)

Living everyday with a consciousness of God in our midst, and that He is for us and not against us; that He gave up everything for us to be cheerfully free, and that all of heaven is cheering us on, alters our perspective from gloom to cheerfulness. Instead of being afflicted with anxious thoughts we grow to know that we don’t even need to give a thought to the things the rest of the world stresses about because God promises over and over again that He will give us all we need; perfect that which concerns us, and fulfil our highest hopes and dreams (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 138:8; Ephesians 3:20). 

When we seek to have a heavenly perspective through reason of practicing to turn our thoughts and hearts towards God then even when difficulties arise we can know that they are only momentary troubles and that all things must pass and this will too. It’s essentially choosing to take the long view of life understanding God’s perspective and that He is involved in every part of our life. What He has started He will be faithful to complete in us.

 

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

 

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! “(2 Corinthians 4:17)

 

Today cultivate cheerfulness in your life and cause your heart to be glad as you turn your affections and thoughts towards Jesus and gain some heavenly perspective. Allow the encouraging promises in His Word to make your heart glad.

 

“Anxiety in a man’s heat weighs him down, but an encouraging word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)

 

Prayer: Lord I’m turning my thoughts and heart towards heaven and engaging in the joy that flows out of your kingdom. Help me to remember that any problems I may be facing are momentary and will pass, so help me to not focus my attention on them, but on you and your Word instead. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

19 Nov – Be cheerful and forgive (Pt 2)

be cheerful - forgive

C.S Lewis once said, “It is a Christian duty for everyone to be as happy as he can.” It’s actually what we are called and made to be; to be joyful, cheerful and abundantly happy.

Jesus said it this way, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows (John 10:10 AMP).

Cheerfulness and joy are what God wants to give us, and it’s in walking in close relationship with Him that any sorrow, bitterness or anger is exchanged for His joy. I’ve discovered that even in the midst of depressing situations and sadness that I can know His comfort and abiding joy and cheerfulness. That He does in fact turn our mourning into dancing, and our sorrow into joy as we turn and receive from heaven all we need and desire. (Psalm 30:11)

However some things can block the exchange between God and us, and the receiving of this joy and cheerfulness. One of those “blockers” is un-forgiveness, which causes people to become angry and bitter. Un-forgiveness steals people’s good cheer and results in illness, relationship breakdowns, strife and turning everything sour and horrible.

God however has a solution to this “blocker” of heavenly joy. He advises us to, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted and gentle, forgiving one another as He for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

 If you are struggling physically and emotionally, or you just feel awful inside all the time, take a look in the mirror and examine your heart and attitudes. Is there an angry, unforgiving person looking back at you? If so, let go of the weight of anger and un-forgiveness and choose for your own sake and the people close to you to walk in forgiveness so that your heart and life can be filled with joy and good cheer.

 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)

Prayer: Lord please reveal to me if I have un-forgiveness in my heart and help me to then forgive and let go of any grievances I may have towards others. Today I turn to you and receive your joy and a heart that is overflowing with cheerfulness. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Nov – Being cheerful

be of good cheer

Some people are naturally born with a “sunny” disposition. Whereas other people struggle with melancholy and negative thoughts and feelings. Having six children I have noticed the differences in our childrens personalities; how each one processes the same information or events and how that outworks in their lives.
The more sensitive, deep thinkers in life can take things more to heart and often look at things negatively. They may not be as cheerful, and can easily feel crushed or broken by people or circumstances. We all need to aware of our inner world’s, our tendencies and heart’s condition and seek to build resilience, cheerfulness and the decision to look on the bright side of life because it affects more than our mood.

The bible says, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing. But a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 Amp) A literal translation from the original Hebrew would be, “A cheerful heart causes good healing.” God is giving us a key to health and healing in that our attitude and the way we aporoach the problems and challenges of life contributes to good healing and health.

There is a relationship between the condition of the heart and the condition of the body because there is a relationship between physical and spiritual health. A crushed or broken spirit literally means it sucks out the marrow of life from the bones, and that a man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear. ( Proverbs 18:1)

Some ways to cultivate a cheerful heart which will sustain and nourish us through our lives are:
1. Focus on joyful things: flicking through facebook, the news, listening to fearful, negative conversations or media and tv does not help us to build cheerfulness. Think, listen and focus on those things that are pure, lovely and worthy of giving a shout about. (Philippians 4 :13)

2. Associate and build relationships with those who are cheerful. My no. one cheerful relationship is with Jesus. He is, contrary to religious thought a lot of fun and makes everything so much better. He is the ultimate joygiver and time spent with Him changes our hearts and perspective

Also be mindful of spending large amounts of time with angry, negative, bitter people. They’ll suck the joy out of you. Instead find some joyful people to be with and let their cheerfulness rub off on you.

Be aware today of choosing to surround yourself with cheerfulness and with Jesus who is joy Himself.

Prayer: Lord thankyou that you fill my heart with cheer and help me to focus on those things that generate joy instead of fear. In Jesus name Amen

 

17 Nov – Centre In

centee in
To onlookers my life probably seems ridiculously busy. I’m a wife, a mum of six kids, grandmother, senior pastor of a church, and a homeschooler. Actually most people comment I’m either superwoman or a little crazy.
I know what it is to have absolutely awesome, great, productive days and to also have the “what on earth am I doing, I’m exhausted, please give me some quiet” type days.

To help me stay relatively peaceful, a pleasant person to be around and to enjoy my life I’ve learnt to lean in. Leaning in is when I quiet my emotions, mind and heart so I can centre in on myself. When I centre or lean into the core of who I am I find God’s quietness and presence. My heart slows, my mind stops racing and my spirit and soul are energised. When we have a relationship with Jesus this art of “centering” instantly helps us connect with Him and enables us to focus and renew our strength in God.

With practice we can “centre in” wherever we are by:
Closing our eyes and slowing our breathing by taking deep, slow breaths.
Focusing our minds on quietness and stillness.
Replace worrying or stressful thoughts that comes across our minds with God’s Word
Leaning deeper into Jesus. I sometimes picture just falling into Jesus, or sitting with Him in a peaceful quiet place; your secret place with God.

Once I’ve “centred in” I just sit quietly in that place; I breathe, rest, and soak in Gods presence. I dont necessarily have to “feel” or hear anything. What’s important is that we centre or lean into the source of our peace, strength and joy.

Today take some time to “centre in,” for in that secret place God is waiting there.

Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

In returning and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength”. (Isaiah 30 :15)

Prayer: Lord please help me to find that quiet secret place with you so that I can commune with you, and discover peace and joy throughout the busyness of my day. In Jesus name Amen

16 Nov – Don’t worry!

don't worry

How much time do we spend worrying over the future and things we can do little about now? We can worry about our finances, families, our children, the government, the world and anything else we can think of.
Yet worrying about tomorrow can become a dangerous waste of mental, emotional and spiritual energy because we aren’t created to worry. Its bad for our relationships, sense of humour, health, causes toxicity in our brains and saps our faith to believe God and what He says about our life.

Jesus advised us not to worry, and especially to not worry about tomorrow, for today has enough things to keep us busy. Instead of worrying He says to get in the habit and attitude of trusting.  (Matthew 6) Trusting that He is good, that He has our future in His very capable hands, that He loves our families and the people in our life even more than we do, and that He will work out every circumstance for good for those who love and follow Him.

The more often we begin our day entrusting everything into God’s hands; getting heavens perspective regarding our relationships, finances and the concerns of the day, and then being lead by the Holy Spirit, the easier it is to trust God and not to worry.

Make a decision to stop worrying and start your day giving all your concerns to God as you read and listen to His Word so as to get His perspective. Then focus on the good things of the day before you, remembering to quickly hand over any worries to God if they come up throughout the day. He knows everything that is going on around us, and the end from the beginning already so when we choose to trust Him we can start enjoying life rather than spend our days worrying about what may happen next.

Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

Prayer: Lord please help me to cultivate and have an attitude of trusting you with my life, and to have heavens perspective about my circumstances. Thank you that you are taking care of me today.  In Jesus name Amen

15 Nov – Do Hard Things

do hard things

Today I watched as our eight year old son Isaac swam 25 metres of the pool at his swimming lesson. A week ago, after a winters break from lessons he was stressed and lacking confidence to even remember how to swim 5 metres, let alone the required 25 metres to pass his swimming level. As he clung nervously to the lane ropes doubting his ability to not drown in the big pool we had a discussion about how important it is to do hard things, and for him to trust what he had learnt and challenge himself to do something that he was finding difficult. As a result of doing the hard thing Isaac has now  overcome his fear and feelings of anxiety, and is doing what he at first thought he couldn’t.

Hard things are those pursuits or necessary things that push us past our comfortability and help us to grow and become all that God has made us to be. Hard things can be downright scary, feel overwheming and stretch us to the point of being far from comfortable. Yet this is the place we can discover a renewed awareness of God’s presence, strength from His indwelling power and the motivation to make the decision to face our fears and do it anyway. The very place where we feel we have run out of our strength is the place where we realise God is there to uphold us.

When we face and do hard things we also break through fear and anxiety and find out what we are really capable of, and where and how we can grow and develop in the future. There is no failure in trying, only in quitting or choosing to do nothing at all.

Facing and having to do hard things isn’t necessarily bad, and it’s how we grow muscles both physically, emotionally and spiritually. We are so much more capable than we give ourselves and the God who created us credit for. Plus when we know and have a relationship with Jesus we have resurrection power dwelling on the inside of us, and the one who says, “my grace (supernatural ability) is enough for you”, is backing us all the way.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11)

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As Isaac stood grinning today after swimming I asked him what had changed so that he was now able to swim so far, when only a few days ago he couldn’t and he said, “I decided I was going to try to swim the whole pool today.  I kept on praying, “Jesus please give me strength and help me, and then I just kept swimming”.

Today don’t be afraid of attempting something that takes you out of your comfort zone or looks hard. Pray and ask God if this is something He wants for you, read His Word on it to build your faith and then go for it. Because doing harder things is also part of the route to recovery from lifes more challenging moments and disappointments, and in pushing through them we realise we don’t have to remain under circumstances, failure, loss or anything else life may have thrown at us. And as Isaac and Dory from “Nemo” say, “You’ve gotta get out there and just keep swimming!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you help me to do hard things, and that your grace is sufficient for me. That when I am weak you are strong in me, and you help me to be all that I was created to be.  In Jesus name Amen.

 

14 Nov – Who’s voice are you listening to?

don't listen to fear

One of the things I’ve learnt about fear is that it attacks and seeks to sap our confidence and strength. We start to doubt our abilities, intellect, attractiveness, and overall worth.

One of the best ways I’ve found to overcome fears onslaught on my confidence is do get hold of God’s Word and what He says about my strength and courage and that “I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength”. (Philippians 4:13)

Sometimes I’ve got to literally preach to myself, and speak what is true regarding a situation, rather than believe and be dictated to by fears lies.
Fear has a particular voice; its the, “you can’t do that, what if this happens, you’re so unattractive, you’re going to fail, get sick, die, lose, or look like an idiot”.

When I listen to fears voice I feel weak, am prone to doubt myself, God’s goodness, my ability and my general self worth. Whereas when I hone in on what God says about me I receive the needed confidence boost and empowering to do whatever He has asks and the tasks in front of me.

The choice is ours everyday which voice we will listen to and act upon -Fears or God’s. I highly recommend listening to God’s voice and to what He promises in His Word, and to give fear a swift kick out the door so that you can get on with your day free from fears negative attitude. For with God all things are possible and in Him we have all the wisdom, strength and confidence we need.

Prayer: Today fear I am kicking you out the door. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I believe Gods promises are true and that God has me and every situation I will face today in His hands. Thankyou Lord that you love and care about me. In Jesus name Amen

 

13 Nov – Don’t let fear stop you!

don't let fear stop you

When we allow fear to dictate to us who we are; our capabilities, where we go and what we do, the result is that we tend to step away from the person God says we are and who He has made us to be. We essentially end up “standing still” in life and then going backwards, rather than running confidently into our future and the things that will bring us joy.

Fear limits; it seeks to paralyse, to squish our joy and steal our future from us. We actually need to regularly do things that push us out of our comfort zones; which stretch and make us think, act and really live, even if that means we have to do things we find hard or we have to face our fears. We don’t have to do everything all at once, but we do have to do something otherwise we run the risk of stepping futher and futher away from who God has purposed for us to be, and fear wins instead.

God says that His perfect love casts out all fear, so the more we know we are loved by God through spending time with Him, reading His Word and connecting with others who know they are loved by God too, the bigger His love gets in our hearts and minds, and the less fear controls who we are.

Draw near to God today and allow His love, acceptance and care of you to cast out all your fears. He is creator of the whole universe, yet He knows every star in the sky by name, and every hair upon your head. He can handle anything and everything you may be facing and with Him by your side you’re going to be more than okay.

Let His love instead of fear motivate and speak to you, for love will give you a boldness and confidence to be who you really want to be, rather than being the one who always shrinks back in fear and doubt.

“No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.” (1 John 4:18)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Prayer: Lord help me to draw close to you today so that you can remind me of who I really am, and how much you love and care for me. Fear will not win today. In Jesus name Amen

 

 

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