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3 Aug – Living Letters

living letters

There are some letters that were written many years ago that if we cared to read them would give us some priceless advice and wisdom. They were penned by a man named Paul who was willing to die for the words he shared and the convictions and beliefs that he lived by.

Paul wrote about how to live above our circumstances and at peace, free from selfishness and thinking we are better than everyone else. He encouraged compassion, giving and kindness, and for people to work together with a purpose and to know what really matters in life. He advised to do everything without complaining and arguing and to live like shining lights in a crooked and perverse world. Paul advised his readers to give thanks, to pray about everything and to watch out for those who would try to steal their joy and value before God. He wrote that we can do all things through Jesus who gives us strength and that the work God starts in us He will be faithful to complete so that we become the person we were created to be. (Philippians 1-3)

The thing about Paul’s words is that they were inspired and revealed to him by his relationship with Jesus and times of encountering Him. They weren’t merely a man’s words, but God’s and therefore worthy of our attention.

Read for yourself the words penned by Paul who was willing, and did eventually die for believing and sharing them, and consider as he advised how you are living with regard to your relationships, behaviour, words and attitudes.

(You can read Paul’s letters in 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy in the bible for a start)

The world around us is a very poor measuring stick on how to live well. However Jesus’ example and the words and lives of those who followed after him are not. They demonstrate lives well lived, full of purpose, kindness, humility and power. They’re living letters of a relationship with God and what and in whom they believed.

Perhaps it’s time for each one of us to look deeply and intently to Jesus, (the one who Paul knew, wrote about and was prepared to die for), so that He might instruct, challenge and guide us with His words and ways. Then perhaps we too can become like living letters, written out clearly for all to see in the way we move, talk, relate and treat others.

 “If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.” (1 John 2:5-7 The Message)

Prayer: Lord please help me to spend time with you, to listen to your words and to follow your example so that I can become like a living letter that talks about you. Forgive me where I haven’t been doing that, and help me as I draw closer to you and allow you to work more deeply in my life. In Jesus name Amen.

2 Aug – Best Possible Outcome

god's plan

God does have a plan for each of our lives, and it always contains the best possible outcome for us if we’d only learn to keep in step with Him. He promises in His Word to direct us in our journey and to guide us away from pitfalls and mistakes. When we miss it He is faithful to pick us back up again but He loves us so much that He really doesn’t want us to have to go through anything needlessly.

One of the things I have discovered is that no matter how hard we push and strive to make things happen by ourselves, if God is not wanting that to unfold in our lives it usually isn’t going to  happen – no matter how much we want it to. If by chance He allows us to “stubbornly go where we want to”, we are bound to discover sooner or later that the things we struggled to obtain so much don’t contain half as much joy or fulfilment in them as we expected.

If you have a decision to make or you are unsure of what to do, ask God for his advice and direction.  He says He will  instruct us in the way to go. Often if things are unclear or we feel “heaven is like brass” over our heads it’s because we haven’t been listening, have undealt with issues from the past clouding our view or we’re not going to act upon what God says anyway.

One other key is not to rush things. Stop, breath, and trust that if God says He will guide you in the way to go He will. Seek Him and trust in His promise that He will lead you in exactly the right way to go knowing that He always wants the best possible outcome for your life.

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” (Isaiah 48:17 NLT)

“Guide me into the paths that please you, for I take delight in all that you say.
Cause my heart to bow before your words of wisdom and not to the wealth of this world.(Psalm 119:35)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you promise that you will direct my steps and that you have the perfect plan and best possible outcome for my life. Help me to deal with any fears and confusion, so that I would be able to hear clearly from you today. In Jesus name Amen.

1 Aug – Me And My House

Recorded in the bible is the life of a guy called Joshua. He was a tough, resilient, committed, God seeker, who wasn’t afraid to be His own man even if that meant going against the general consensus.  He believed God and His word and was prepared to put His life on the line if necessary to act upon his convictions.

Joshua’s stance in life was, “you can do what you want, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We will follow after Him, we will obey what He says; no matter what that looks like, or how far that takes us, we are for God 100%”

That sort of lifestyle and commitment challenged people then and it still does today. It’s always inspiring when you meet people who have stood up against popular opinion and stated, “I’m going to live God’s way. I’m not going to follow after the crowd if that crowd isn’t going the way God is leading me. I’m going to live for Jesus. Whatever he says I will do. What I see in His word I’m going to believe; wherever He directs me to go, I will go; when He says speak or act or do, that’s where you will find me. 

When you look at the world, with all it’s “truth is relative, and everyone else is doing it, drinking it, taking it, thinking it, speaking it, living it, so maybe I should too” attitudes,  it’s more important than ever that we begin to seek to have the same heart as Joshua. For us to have the “guts” to stand up in the crowd and declare, “you may be happy to think and act the way everyone else around you is, but as for me I am going to live wholeheartedly for Jesus. I choose to follow what He says in the bible, even if that makes no sense to anyone else. If I see it I will do it, believe it, and speak it. Even if that means I have to keep believing when I cannot it see it happening, I will keep standing for Him and His word until my life lines up with what He says.”

When people start to live with conviction and wholeheartedly, it’s inspires others to do the same. Joshua’s example lead the way for a whole community to follow God and even after he died the people kept on living lives of Godly conviction.

Today, take a look at your life. Are you compromising or settling for what everyone else does or thinks? Or are you seeking after Jesus no matter what? It’s a choice we make everyday; so let your choice today be, “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 NLT)

 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Prayer: Lord thank you for your great grace for me and that even though I may at times mess up and fail to follow you with conviction and my whole heart you still love me. Would you please give me strength Holy Spirit to live for Jesus today, even if that means  going against the crowd. In Jesus Name Amen

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

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