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July 2020

31 July – How To Understand People

An attorney once said, “Half of all the controversies and conflicts that arise among people are caused not by differences of opinion or an inability to agree, but by lack of understanding of one another. If we could reduce the number of misunderstandings, the courts wouldn’t be as crowded, there would be fewer violent crimes, the divorce rate would go down, and the amount of everyday stress most people experience would drop dramatically”.

So how do we learn how to understand people better? One way is to look at why we lack understanding and to ask ourselves some questions:

1. Are we afraid? When we don’t understand others we often react in fear. Try to stop and learn about the other person and their viewpoint and then make an effort to understand what they are trying to do or say. Stop and listen.

2. Are we being self-centered? Are we putting the other person first or merely thinking of ourselves all the time. Unfortunately when we fail to understand it’s often because we have thought of our own interests and desires first.

The bible has some wise words on this topic ,” Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves“(Philippians 2:3)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love“.(1 John 4:7-8)

3. Are we expecting everyone to think exactly like we do? If we are then we’re setting up to be disappointed. Look around you, everyone is different. God is creative and made each of us unique in our own way. Instead of trying to mold everyone into your box, learn to appreciate differences. If we learn to appreciate each other we often find where we are weak in a area another person will be strong and we can end up complementing one another.

4. Are we too alike? Often people who share similarities either get on famously or “butt heads”. Stop, listen and think how would U respond in this situation. When people are similar they often have the same emotions and point of view but they are just to similar to see it.

I read a great quote this week by John Maxwell, it said, “If you treat every person you meet as if he or she were the most important person in the world, you’ll communicate that he or she is somebody – to you”

When we stop, listen and seek to understand other people’s feelings and point of view, it goes a long way to creating great communication and relationships. It’s not always easy, you have to quiet the noise, step back, ask for God’s wisdom and be honest with your own shortcomings. But if we make the effort it’s worth it.

Prayer: Lord please help me to take the time to stop, listen and ask you how to understand others more and to see their value like you do. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

30 July – Understand What Really Matters

what really matters

There is a passage in the bible that I have been going over and over for the last few weeks. It’s that we would, “understand what really matters, so that we may live pure and blameless lives….” (Philippians 1:10)

What if we understood what really matters? If we thought about using our time each day not just on the immediate and temporary things but also on what is of real importance and significance. Where we stopped and asked God, “What would you have me say and do today, and asked Him to show us what really matters.”

I love reading about the life of one man named Dwight Moody who seemed to understand what mattered and therefore was able to make such a difference in many people’s lives. Dwight was born in 1837 to poor parents in a humble farmhouse in Massachusetts and at 17 years old he left home to move to Chicago to become a shoe salesmen.

Shortly after his arrival in Chicago Dwight made a decision that would change everything. He started to seek God first and foremost for his future and as he did he began to feel compelled to speak to people about Jesus. Soon he had large numbers  listening and at different times up to 50,000 people would crowd around him as he stood up in his buggy and spoke about Jesus in the open air. Presidents and their cabinet members sat on platforms with him as he preached and through his endeavors the YMCA was also formed.

Dwight Moody was known as a man surrendered to God. He was a man of prayer; actually he was a far greater prayer than he was a preacher. He knew in the depths of his soul that nothing is to hard for God, and so he would pray, hear from heaven and expect answers.

But what always inspires me most about Dwight Moody is that he knew the value of one person to God. Everyday he would speak to at least one person about Jesus, even if that meant getting back out of bed late at night and going out on the street to find someone to talk to.

He was an ordinary man, but God used this humble, shoe salesman to change millions of lives and his spiritual legacy continues to inspire and impact the world today.

How different would our lives all look if we grew to understand what really matters? I encourage you to spend some time at the start of each day finding out and asking Jesus. What plan and purpose has He got for your life, and how does He want you to pursue that today? Is there someone you can speak with, have a coffee, encourage or pray for?

One person can make a difference. Why not make that one person you!

“But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Prayer: Lord please help me to understand what really matters and the difference and eternal significance I can make today. Speak to and direct my words and actions today. I’m listening and available. In Jesus name Amen.

29 July – The Value Of Quiet

 

quieter you become

History records that Jesus is one of the greatest leaders and influencers of all time, so it makes sense to examine the example He set for us on how to live.

What’s interesting about Jesus is that at the peak of His earthly ministry when people were coming from everywhere to be around him Jesus would regularly withdraw by Himself to have times of quiet.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:35-37)

Jesus knew the value of quietness and focusing on the important, rather than the urgent. It enabled Him to offer real help and peace to a confused and agitated world which was searching for peace and answers. 

God wants us to be able to live free from constant strife, worry, agitation and angst. He encourages us to seek Him and His peace in our relationships and in how we act. To lead lives that both impact the world for good, but that are also not incessantly anxious or stressed by what is going on around us

Quietness let’s go of a life of agitation and constant activity and replaces it with focus and clarity to what really matters in life. We begin to see how we can genuinely make a difference to those around us and become part of the solution to the problems in the world.

Consider for a moment how much more peace, rest and an increase of focus you would experience if you chose to make more time for quiet and seeking after peace. The quieter we become the more we hear, both from our own hearts and God’s.

I encourage you to follow the example of Jesus and to regularly take time to be quiet. To turn off the noise and to draw away to a solitary place. For God promises that as we wait upon Him in the quietness,“He will renew our strength; we shall mount up with wings as eagles; we shall run, and not be weary; and we shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)l

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

Prayer: Lord please help me to find times of quiet, and to know in a deeper way the peace you desire to bring to my life. Help me to understand what really matters and to not get distracted or caught up in those things that would steal my peace, focus and a quietness in my heart and mind. In Jesus name Amen.

28 July – How To Live At Peace

quiet life

With all the news, social media and constant barrage of information that we are faced with on a daily basis we can easily get caught up in conversations, opinions and even fights that God never intended for us to be involved in. We can even feel like we need to take into our own hands every injustice and wrong doing that exists so that we can make it all right. 

There is definite merit and need for us to speak up, to pray, and to be actively involved in making a positive difference in our communities. But there is also real power in finding the balance of being able to live at peace, free from strife in both our hearts and minds. To make living a quiet life our ambition.

God encourages us to aspire to lead such a quiet life and to seek to be at peace with others. 

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need”. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

So, here are a few benefits to living a quiet life and to live at peace.

1. A quiet life focuses us on the people in front of us.

When we’re living agitated and strife driven lives our attention is spread across the masses. However God does place us in smaller communities and to have close connections for a reason.

A quiet life sees the need to love the people around us, not just the crowds. We learn how to be faithful, patience and loving in the  personal interactions we have with others.

2. A quiet life prevents burnout.

When life is moving fast, we expend our energy faster. We can then become exhausted from all our doing. The world’s push to DO,DO,DO is dangerous and makes burnout far too common.

The quieter approach to life acknowledges limits. We move slower and measure our resources and energy wisely. We give what we can, but we also can consistently continue to give and be involved without the risk of burnout

Look at the minimum you can consistently do and then build your capacity, rather than taking on too much and burning out.

3. A quiet life gives you time to learn.

By being patient and quiet we give ourselves time to learn without the pressure and attention of making big “out there” statements.  We learn before setting out. This does not mean we are immune from the possibility of failure, it just ensures that we have the right tools to best succeed.

A quiet life helps us move in God’s rhythm. It’s a lot like the ocean or nature’s seasons – it ebbs and flows. God rhythm doesn’t move in our rushed pace that tries to control everything. It involves listening and trusting in God’s leading.

Quietness and stillness does not mean God is absent. Often it’s in the quiet spaces that we find God the most, and where He reveals His work in us. The secret is to learn to be quiet enough to let Him work on our lives, in whatever way He pleases.

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godless and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior”. (1 Timothy 2:2)

Prayer: Lord please help me to see the value in quietness and how to live life in your rhythm, free from the strife or the constant busy pace of the world. Please help me to find strength and meaning in the quiet spaces with you and to learn to live at peace. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 July – How To Choose Quality Over Quantity

quality

“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.”  (George McDonald)

My Dad was known for buying quality and the best his money could afford. He would shop at the high end stores wherever possible, eat at nice restaurants and stay in up market hotels. My Dad would often forgo buying something or even giving a gift to us kids unless it was something of significance and quality.

While he was still alive I often struggled with his, “it needs to be of good quality” belief, but now I’m actually glad as I still have the gifts he chose to spend more time and money on (even if there are fewer of them). As result I have a greater appreciation for quality when I see it, whether that be in the products I buy, books I read, music I listen to or the relationships I build and spend time on.

Society in contrast often pushes quantity; as in more is better. Perhaps because the more we consume the more we spend, regardless of the quality.

Quantity rather than quality feeds our appetite for instant gratification, the next fix and having options, rather than remaining focused on what we really value. We are encouraged to aim towards more short term gains instead of focusing on the long term things that matter.

I believe that the level of our happiness and contentment in life has a lot to do with choosing quality. With seeking to cultivate a quality mindset, rather than settling for inferior quantities of the things we consume, surround ourselves with and the relationships we build.

How To Choose Quality

The way to choose quality over quantity is to raise our standards within every area of our lives. We have to really value ourselves if we want to consistently choose the highest quality people, things, habits, mindsets and standards in life.

If we don’t value ourselves then we will constantly find ourselves in a place that lacks meaning, depth and quality. It takes more effort, patience and discipline to build meaningful relationships, save for better products and to gain higher calibre results. And we have to know that we are worth it to make such an effort. 

God however says we are worth it and that he wants us to have the best life. That means not settling for second best and praying and seeking God for, “what is His best in every area of our life?”

As we do this we’ll have God’s kind of quality, which then has a tendency to increase to his standard of quantity.  Jesus himself said, “I have come that they may have life “in abundance, to the full till it overflows.” ( John 10:10)

Today start with one thing and determine to choose quality over quantity.

  • Forgo the cheaper option where you can save to buy the better quality.
  • Be content with having a few really great friends and relationships, rather than a host of acquaintances that don’t edify or affirm the best version of you.
  • Choose productive exercise, quality food, music, entertainment, art and books.

Consistently choosing quality over quantity means we will over time begin to experience the benefits of  making quality a priority and value in our lives. It’s valuing ourselves and who God has called us to be, as we choose to take hold of the best version of the life God has planned for us.

Prayer: Lord thank you that you want the very best for my life and that you desire for me to live life to the fullest. Please help me to  focus on valuing who you say I am, and to make the life you have planned for me my priority and standard in life. In Jesus name Amen.

26 July – 3 Top Tips for Life

48410-billy-graham-quote-3.1200w.tn (2)

I’ve managed to learn a few things as a wife, Mum of six kids, senior pastor, and running my own business and I’ve been thinking about what some of my top tips for living are.

Here are my top three tips:

Tip No. 1 – Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison leads to negativity, feeling alienated, feelings of unworthiness and poor self-esteem and causes us to doubt ourselves.  We need to “back ourselves” and believe that what God has blessed and entrusted us with, He will also provide, strengthen and enable us to handle. God doesn’t compare us, He just loves us for the unique amazing creations we are.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.  For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5)

Tip No. 2 – Pray. Its when we try to do everything by ourselves that we most often run into problems. Prayer quietens our souls, sharpens our minds, edifies and fine tunes our spirit and enables us to off load our burdens so that we are then more able to hear from God and glean from His wisdom on how to move forward.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Tip No. 3 – Be prepared. From small children to adults it’s being prepared in the little things that seems to make a big difference. For example locating what you are going to wear and preparing for the next day. The issue with people’s socks, jocks and knickers and not being able to find them when you need them, seems to be widespread.  It’s one thing that can mess with our morning schedules and facilitates more than one person to end up in tears. I’m sure the washing machine eats socks so that we are constantly left with odd or missing ones, and that in a strong wind our favourite pieces of clothing blows over the neighbour’s fence never to be seen again.

God wants us to be able to be focused and ready for the things He has planned for us. However our daily lives are also filled with things we just have to deal with – like socks and jocks. Being prepared and organised in the little things of life will help us find precious time, energy and space to focus our hearts, imagination and intellect on our bigger purpose, whilst also doing what needs to be done.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep a clear head, and set your hope completely on the grace to be given you when Jesus, the Messiah, is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Don’t compare yourself, make time to pray, be prepared and you’ll be set to go and have a great day. 

Prayer: Lord please help me to have confidence in who you have made me to be, and to be prepared as I talk and listen to you everyday. Help me to walk in wisdom today as I listen and lean on you. In Jesus name Amen

25 July – Our Brokenness Can Become Our Breakthrough

breakthrough

What we have lost is not nearly as important as what we have left, for there is real power in our broken pieces; in all that we still have in our hands and hearts.

Our brokenness can become a means to our breakthrough.

Paul in the bible is a great example of how God will use even the broken pieces of our lives and situations to get us to our destination. Paul was caught in a terrible storm and the ship he was sailing on started to break apart  leaving the crew and passengers shipwrecked. Struggling in stormy waters with the debris of their vessel all around them, they grabbed hold of whatever was left of the ship and managed to make it to the shore and safety. The broken pieces of their ship became their breakthrough and a way for them to still reach their destination. (Acts 27:27-44)

He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely. (Acts 27:43-44)

Focusing on what we don’t have is a sure fire guarantee that we will be frustrated, dissatisfied and miss what God has made available to us. However if we determine to look at what we have before us rather than what we have lost or don’t have, we’ll be far more likely to both recognise and to take advantage of opportunities and a way forward.

There is power in the broken pieces of our lives even if we don’t think they look like much. Just as Paul and his fellow travellers took hold of what was left to them and swam safely to shore, we can too.

Learn to look for the positives and the attributes in your circumstances, and take hold of whatever is available to you as you seek God and His wisdom. He will help you to make the most of any opportunities, and to use even the broken pieces of your life to get to your destination and destiny. 

Prayer: Lord please help me to have eyes to see and a heart to acknowledge all that I have in my life. Please breathe on even my broken pieces, and help me to use them and all I have to fulfill my purpose. I’m asking that you would cause even my brokenness to become my breakthrough. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

24 July – What’s On Your Bucket list?

bucket list

A “bucket list” is the term used for a list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfill and life experiences you desire to experience before you die.

Why Create a Bucket List?

If we don’t live our days with any purpose or vision, chances are we’ll spend most of our time caught up in the hurry, scurry and flurry of daily life. Having a bucket list reminds us of what’s really important so we can act on them.

Even if we frequently live by goals or to-do lists, they are probably within the context of performance, career, health etc. A bucket list gives our imagination and secret hopes and dreams room to fly. It’s everything we’ve ever wanted to do, whether it’s big, small, or random.

It’s just like planning ahead all the highlights we want for our whole life. Writing a bucket list is an insightful exercise, and gives us permission to dream and imagine.

God loves it when we dream, and take the limits off. He says, “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

I think He has a bucket list for each one of us.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”. (Jeremiah 29:11)

And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them“. (Psalm 139:16)

The whole point of creating a bucket list is to maximize every moment of our day and live our life to the fullest. It’s a reminder of all the things we want to achieve, so that instead of spending our time in pointless activities, we are directing it fully towards what matters to us, and the call and purposes God has for each of our lives.

If you already have a list, regularly make time to review it. See if there are new items you want to add-on. If so, add them in. Check if all the items listed are still relevant or important to you. If not, remove them.

On my bucket list there are two parts:

Part 1 – is what I’m asking God to do. It’s what I speak, imagine, pray, believe and stand on God’s word for.
That’s God’s part of the list; On my own my list looks far beyond my capabilities. It’s where my faith has to kick in to believe on the promises of God.

Part 2 – is what I can do. I do my part and God does His. I spend time asking the Lord, “is there anything you want me to do”, and then write it down on my part of the list.

I do what I can do to be the person God made me to be, to make the most of every opportunity, to “lift the lids” in my life, and work on my strengths. Then I leave God to do His part.

Our bucket list is meant to be a list of everything we want to achieve, do, see, feel and experience in our life. If we want to have the full abundant life Jesus wants for us, He asks us to dream, to hope, to imagine. If we don’t, we shouldn’t complain when life passes us by.

Now, take out your pen and paper, or open up a text document. Take the shackles off your dreaming, include God in this list making (he’ll get you to dream bigger) and start writing.

It won’t cost you anything, and will probably only take 30-60 minutes of your day. But you stand to gain significant clarity and focus on the plans and purposes God has for you, and all that you want to experience in the precious gift that is your life!
It’s an invaluable exchange. Have fun!

Prayer: Lord thank you for the gift of my life. Help me to take the shackles off my thinking and dreaming. To dare to believe that you would grant me the desires of my heart. Help me to dream, hope and believe bigger, and that my life would glorify you. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

23 July – Be God Focused, Not Problem Focused

god focused

It’s easy to look at the problems all around us; the latest news, bad reports and what if’s in life and become focused on those things rather than what God is saying and doing.  If we are not careful we can then begin to speak, believe and even pray the problems rather than look to and trust God for the answers.

David in the bible is a great example of someone who was God focused rather than problem focused. He purposely chose to diminish his fears and the size of the giant he faced as he ran into battle, rather than reinforcing in his heart and mind, his enemy’s strength and ability to harm him.

When David faced Goliath he didn’t declare him to be a giant. Instead David down played his size and chose to declare that Goliath was an “uncircumcised Philistine” and no match for the God whom he served. (1 Samuel 17)

How often when faced with our “enemy”; the things we fear, the unknown’s, bad news reports, sickness, lack or that which looks too big for us to handle, do we amplify the problem and our fears rather than looking to the size, strength and capabilities of the God who created the Universe? The same God who formed the moon and the stars with a spoken Word, who parted the Red Sea, who opens blind eyes, heals broken and wounded bodies and delivers His people from the fiery furnace and the lions den.

Today don’t look at the size of your giant and allow your heart to be filled with fear and doubt. Look to God and know that just as He was with David as he ran into battle and slayed that “uncircumcised Philistine”, He is also with you.

Alone you are limited in your strength and capabilities, but with God you can do far more than you ever imagined possible.

“Those who know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Dan.11:32)

 “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Duet 31:6)

“The Lord your God is in your midst, the mighty one who will save.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you are with me and that I don’t need to be intimidated or fearful of the strength of my enemies, or that which causes me to be afraid. For no weapon formed against me will prosper, and all those who rise up against me will fall. In Jesus name Amen. (Isaiah 54:17)

 

 

 

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