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English to Nepali: The Word For Today General field: Other
Source text - English WFT ASO 16 – Anglicised & Edited
MONDAY 1 AUGUST
‘Live generously and graciously toward others.’ Matthew 5:48 MSG
Always Do More than What’s Expected
Jesus said, ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over’ (Luke 6:38 KJV). Notice, He didn’t say, ‘Only give to those who can give back to you.’ John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, said, ‘You haven’t lived today until you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you.’ In the days of Jesus, a Roman soldier could legally force a Jewish civilian to carry his heavy backpack for up to a mile. That was his right, and you refused to do so at your peril. So to walk the first mile was to do only what was required. Then Jesus came along and said, ‘If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two’ (Matthew 5:41 NIV 1984 Edition). Why? Because ‘extra-mile service’ gives you an opportunity to impact the lives of others. A person with an extra-mile attitude is someone who cares more than others think is wise, risks more than others think is safe, dreams more than others think is practical, believes more than others think is possible, and gives more than others think is necessary. Here’s how Jesus bottom-lines it: ‘If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects … live like it. Live out your God-created identity … generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you’ (vv. 46-48 MSG). So always do more than is expected.
TUESDAY 2 AUGUST
‘Write the vision and make it plain … that he may run who reads it.’ Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV
Has God Given You a Vision?
When God gives you a vision for your life, write it down, keep it before you at all times and run with it. You say, ‘But I see no way for it to come to pass.’ The Bible says, ‘The vision is yet for an appointed time … wait for it; because it will surely come’ (v. 3 NKJV). You may not know how to get from where you are right now to where the vision will ultimately take you - but God does. So ask Him to reveal the next step to you. Whether you’re in prison like Joseph, in a soup kitchen in the inner city, or at home taking care of small children, God will fulfil the vision He placed in your heart. The more you see yourself leading in the boardroom, launching your own business, serving in ministry, writing your first book, or helping others through your gifts, the sooner it’ll become a reality. Before a vision becomes clear, God gives us glimpses of it - like a picture developing from a soft hue into sharp resolution. So take your vision and run with it. Let it motivate you to perform to the best of your ability in your present position, while staying in communication with the One who knows and loves you best. Today pray: ‘Lord, I know that where I am right now, isn’t where You’re taking me. Give me glimpses of Your vision for my future, so that my understanding may grow in accordance with Your timing. Give me patience along the way and faith to trust that You’re always working for my good. Amen.’
WEDNESDAY 3 AUGUST
‘Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.’ Philippians 3:13 NLT
Start Looking Forward
There are things inside you that must be dealt with before you can move ahead. Every experience you’ve had from birth until the present moment has helped shape who you are. The things that happen to you, good and bad, are instrumental in determining how you’ll act and react for the rest of your life. Paul talks about ‘forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead’. You ask, ‘What did Paul have to forget?’ A lot! On Paul’s orders Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death while he looked on. Before he met Christ on the Damascus road, Paul routinely imprisoned and put Christians to death. The fact is, if he hadn’t overcome his past he would never have written half the New Testament and helped establish a church that would last two millennia. Was Paul perfect? Not even close! That’s why he said: ‘I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be…I am still not all that I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us’ (vv. 12-14 TLB). The only place the past can live is in your memory; and the only power it has over you is the power you give it. So the word for you today is: Start looking forward.
THURSDAY 4 AUGUST
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.’ Romans 15:13 NIV (2011 Edition)
Trusting God Brings Joy and Peace
Trusting God is so much simpler than not trusting Him. When you doubt God, His Word, and His promises, you’re left to your own devices and reasoning when it comes to working things out. And as a result you get stressed out. Take a moment and read the following three verses, then think carefully about what they mean: ‘But the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest’ (Hebrews 4:2-3 NIV 1984 Edition). ‘He who has once entered [God’s] rest … has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labours’ (Hebrews 4:10 AMP Classic Edition). ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are … overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls]’ (Matthew 11:28 AMP Classic Edition). How are you supposed to approach God? In faith! The Bible says: ‘Without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that … He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]’ (Hebrews 11:6 AMP Classic Edition). That means when you come to God, you must do the believing. And when you do, you’ll receive His joy and peace. These two things are God’s will for you; they were bought and paid for at the cross. Christ’s work is already finished, and the only thing that remains to be accomplished is for you to believe. When you do that, God will respond and bless you every time!
FRIDAY 5 AUGUST
‘When Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face.’ Galatians 2:11 NKJV
Healthy Confrontation (1)
When Peter showed partiality to Jews over Gentiles, Paul confronted him over it! Why? To keep unity in the church. Sometimes you’ve no option but to confront someone. The question is, ‘How?’ None of us are born with the innate ability to do this; it’s a skill only learned through practice and patience. And the reason we’re not good at it, is because we avoid it like the plague. As a result, our relationships suffer and our problems don’t get resolved. The first step in preparing for a confrontation is to establish the right purpose for putting the issue on the table. The focus should be on achieving a better relationship. This can either involve getting someone to stop doing something, or start doing something. At no time should your goal be to tell someone off, or get something off your chest, or lay a guilt trip on them. So it’s important that you first confront yourself. Be honest about why you’ve decided to confront the issue. Do you have an ulterior motive such as resentment or wounded pride, or do you want to see a genuine change in behaviour? You need to ask yourself, ‘When this confrontation is over, what behaviour do I want to see the offender change?’ Remember, in effective confrontation you are looking for a desired outcome and a win-win for both sides. ‘A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city’ (Proverbs 18:19 KJV). If a person knows you truly care about them and are seeking to glorify God in the situation, you’re more apt to get the response you seek.
SATURDAY 6 AUGUST
‘A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.’ Ecclesiastes 3:7 NKJV
Healthy Confrontation (2)
Confronting at a time when the person is most receptive takes wisdom. If you approach someone when they’re busy or focused on another task, they won’t be in the right frame of mind to deal with the confrontation effectively. Wait until they are able to listen and can give you their full attention. And you should make every effort to confront a person when he or she is alone, just as Jesus commanded: ‘If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private’ (Matthew 18:15 NASB). Confronting someone in the presence of others can cause them to become defensive in order to save face. Your goal is reconciliation, not embarrassment. If you have something ‘heavy’ to tell someone, it’s not a good idea to have the confrontation at their house or yours - select a neutral location. That way it will be easier for the person being confronted to leave the scene if he or she becomes belligerent. And there’s always the possibility that this could happen. Sometimes you have to temporarily lose people, to win them later. ‘He who rebukes a man will find more favour afterward than he who flatters with the tongue’ (Proverbs 28:23 NKJV). Note the word ‘afterward’. If you don’t get the immediate response you desire, you can still win - especially if you pray and allow the Holy Spirit to work in a person’s heart. But you must be willing to take the risk and confront the situation in order to bring about the change you desire. If you don’t, things will remain the same - or get worse.
SUNDAY 7 AUGUST
‘LORD, you have searched me and you know me … you perceive my thoughts.’ Psalm 139:1-2 NIV (1984 Edition)
Healthy Confrontation (3)
Just as a bodybuilder develops a great physique by using the correct weightlifting techniques, you must apply the right techniques to achieve the desired results in resolving your conflict. No athlete attempts to lift heavy weights or engage in intense exercise without first warming up his or her muscles. The warm up is crucial to the workout, as it minimises the risk of injury and increases overall muscle performance. Similarly, preparing for confrontation is almost as important as the confrontation itself. Confronting someone spontaneously or without preparation can have disastrous results. Preparation allows you to look at the situation more clearly and not in the midst of an emotional moment, and will most likely lead to a more effective encounter. This would be a good time to pray: ‘LORD, you have searched me and you know me … you perceive my thoughts from afar … Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely’ (vv. 1-4 NIV 1984 Edition). It’s important that you first deal with your negative emotions, such as anger or resentment. While you may deem them justifiable, if you don’t ‘release them’ by the power of the Holy Spirit they will become a roadblock to achieving harmony. And you must also refuse to succumb to the fear of addressing the issue, lest you abandon the entire notion of initiating a confrontation. God can work on both ends of the line. While you are praying and preparing your heart, He can prepare the other person’s heart. ‘There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace’ (Proverbs 12:20 NIV 1984 Edition).
MONDAY 8 AUGUST
‘Pursue … overtake … and … recover all.’ 1 Samuel 30:8 KJV
Don’t Give Up - Go Through
When King David and his men returned home from battle, they discovered that the Amalekites had burned their homes to the ground and taken their families prisoner. They were devastated. They wept until they’d no tears left. Then God spoke to them and said, ‘Pursue … overtake … and … recover all.’ And with His help they did! So no matter how bad your situation looks right now, don’t give up. Cry if you have to, then dry your tears and go out in God’s strength and take back what the Enemy has stolen from you. If necessary, take it an inch at a time, drawing on His strength and not your own. Paul writes: ‘Let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint’ (Galatians 6:9 AMP Classic Edition). God won’t quit on you, so don’t quit on Him! He has promised in His Word: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God’ (Isaiah 43:2-3 NIV 2011 Edition). Don’t give up - go through! It’s easy to quit, but it takes faith to go through. When your faith honours God, He honours your faith! And with Him on your side you’ll come out stronger than you were when you went in. So the word for you today is: ‘Pursue … overtake … and … recover all.’
TUESDAY 9 AUGUST
‘Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.’ Ephesians 6:4 NLT
Parenting and the Battle for Control
If your teenagers don’t like you telling them what to do, relax; they’re normal. And it’s not peculiar to teenagers; it starts much earlier. One psychologist tells about the mother of a tough little four-year-old girl who was demanding her own way. The mother said, ‘I’m your boss, I have the responsibility to lead you, and that’s what I intend to do!’ Little Jenny thought over her mother’s words for a minute, then said, ‘How long does it have to be that way?’ Already, at four years of age she was yearning for the day when nobody could tell her what to do. That’s a God-given instinct. One of the first things God said to Adam and Eve was, ‘Take control over the earth.’ So the task for you as a parent is to hang on to the reins in the early days and gradually begin to grant independence as maturity is demonstrated. This is one of the most delicate responsibilities of parenting. Power granted too early produces folly, but power granted too late brings rebellion. Knowing when to let out the rope, and by how much, requires wisdom, and God is the giver of wisdom (see James 1:5). If you pray, observe, and listen carefully, you’ll begin to see the critical milestones in your child’s life. Paul writes, ‘Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.’ And as a parent, that’s some of the best advice you’ll ever get.
WEDNESDAY 10 AUGUST
‘The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.’ Exodus 18:18 NIV (2011 Edition)
Reach for Help
God has placed people within your reach who are willing to help you. If you don’t accept their help, you will be frustrated and they will be unfulfilled because they’re not using their gifts. God hasn’t called you to do everything, for everybody, in every situation. You can’t be all things to all people all the time! You yourself have legitimate needs, and when they are not met you suffer and so do the people around you. There’s nothing wrong with needing help and asking for it; in fact, it’s wrong to need help and be too proud to ask. Because the children of Israel looked to Moses for everything, he tried to be ‘all things to all people’. And that’s when he reached a breaking point. So his father-in-law suggested he delegate some of his authority and let others make the less important decisions while he made the more important ones. It worked! Moses did what Jethro suggested and it enabled him to succeed in his assignment. Plus, those under his leadership got to enjoy a sense of accomplishment too. It was a win/win and the job got done right! Question: Are you complaining that people are placing too many demands on you and you’ve too much to do? Are you reluctant to let others help because you don’t think anyone can do the job as well as you? Look out! The Scriptures caution about developing ‘an exaggerated opinion of [your] own importance’ (Romans 12:3 AMP Classic Edition). Reach for help. You’ll last longer and enjoy life more if you do!
THURSDAY 11 AUGUST
‘Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?’ Amos 3:3 NKJV
‘Does This Person Belong in My Life?’
A toxic relationship is like a limb with gangrene: unless you amputate it the infection can spread and kill you. Without the courage to cut off what refuses to heal, you’ll end up losing a lot more. Your personal growth - and in some cases your healing - will only be expedited by establishing relationships with the right people. Maybe you’ve heard the story about the scorpion who asked the frog to carry him across the river because he couldn’t swim. ‘I’m afraid you’ll sting me,’ replied the frog. The scorpion smiled reassuringly and said, ‘Of course I won’t. If I did that we’d both drown!’ So the frog agreed, and the scorpion hopped on his back. Wouldn’t you know it: halfway across the river the scorpion stung him! As they began to sink the frog lamented, ‘You promised you wouldn’t sting me. Why’d you do it?’ The scorpion replied, ‘I can’t help it. It’s my nature!’ Until God changes the other person’s nature, they have the power to affect and infect you. For example, when you feel passionately about something but others don’t, it’s like trying to dance a foxtrot with someone who only knows how to waltz. You picked the wrong dance partner! Don’t get tied up with someone who doesn’t share your values and God-given goals. Some issues can be corrected through counselling, prayer, teaching, and leadership. But you can’t teach someone to care; if they don’t care they’ll pollute your environment, kill your productivity, and break your rhythm with constant complaints. That’s why it’s important to pray and ask God, ‘Does this person belong in my life?’
FRIDAY 12 AUGUST
‘He did not retaliate when he was insulted.’ 1 Peter 2:23 NLT
When You Are Criticised
When it comes to constructive criticism, try to learn from it and grow wiser. When it comes to unjustified criticism, remind yourself that Jesus was criticised too, so you’re in good company. And when you’re tempted to give in to resentment and strike back, read these Scriptures: ‘If you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly’ (vv. 20-23 NLT). There’s an interesting story about Abraham Lincoln. During the American Civil War he signed an order transferring certain regiments, but Secretary of War Edwin Stanton refused to execute it, calling the president a fool. When Lincoln heard he replied, ‘If Stanton said I’m a fool then I must be, for he’s nearly always right, and he says what he thinks. I’ll step over and see for myself.’ He did, and when Stanton convinced him the order was in error, Lincoln quietly withdrew it. Part of Lincoln’s greatness lay in his ability to rise above pettiness, ego, and sensitivity to other people’s opinions. He wasn’t easily offended. He welcomed criticism, and in doing so demonstrated one of the strengths of a truly great person: humility. So, have you been criticised? Make it a time to learn, not lose.
SATURDAY 13 AUGUST
‘Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.’ Romans 6:12 NIV (2011 Edition)
Pray for Self-Control
Self-control is one of the great keys to success in life. And since God’s Word has a lot to say about it, if you ask Him He will help you to cultivate it. What you struggled with when you were young will be different from the things you struggle with when you’re older, but you’ll face temptation in one form or another as long as you live. Self-control is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit listed in the Bible (see Galatians 5:22-23). It calls for bringing every aspect of your life under the mastery of the Holy Spirit. It’s a lifestyle characterised by discipline, not impulse. The Greek word for ‘self-control’ comes from a root word meaning ‘to grip’. It calls for getting a grip on your spending so that you don’t go into debt for things you don’t need and can’t pay for. It calls for getting a grip on your temper and not saying things you’ll later regret: ‘Better … a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city’ (Proverbs 16:32 NIV 1984 Edition). It calls for getting a grip on your desires. If Joseph had failed to say no to the repeated advances of his boss’ wife, he’d never have seen his life’s dream fulfilled and sat on the throne of Egypt. Understand this: Satan has discerned your destiny and he’s out to stop you from reaching it. So pray for self-control, and practise it on a daily basis.
SUNDAY 14 AUGUST
‘The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you.’ Mark 4:24 AMP (Classic Edition)
Bible Study: Make It Personal
Martin Luther said studying the Bible was like picking apples. First you shake the trunk, then you shake the limb, then you shake the branch, then you shake the twig, then you look under every leaf. There’s no other book in the world like it. You can read the same Bible verse a dozen times and get a dozen different insights. That’s because it’s ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV). Here’s what Jesus said about studying God’s Word: ‘[Things are hidden temporarily only as a means to revelation.] For there is nothing hidden except to be revealed, nor is anything [temporarily] kept secret except in order that it may be made known’ (Mark 4:22 AMP Classic Edition). Then He adds: ‘Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you - and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.’ Do you want to grow spiritually? Build better relationships? Succeed in your career? Conquer anxiety and find peace? Break a bad habit? Be healed from the emotional wounds of your past? Then meditate on, ponder, think about, practise mentally, and verbalise the Word of God. Instead of living off someone else’s spiritual insight, study God’s Word for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to bless you with life-transforming insights. Jesus said, ‘The Spirit takes my message and tells it to you’ (John 16:15 CEV). And you’ll experience the truth of those words when you personalise the Scripture you’re reading.
MONDAY 15 AUGUST
‘When the Spirit has his way with us.’ Galatians 5:17 TLB
Always remember that no matter how long you walk with God, your carnal nature never improves. It never becomes more like Jesus, even over time. That’s why we’re told to ‘crucify’ it daily (see v. 24). Even the apostle Paul struggled with his lower nature: ‘We naturally love to do evil things … opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting … to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures … But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (vv. 17, 22-23 TLB). You ask, ‘Is such a lifestyle even possible?’ Yes, but you must do these four things: 1) Remember that Satan never takes a day off. You’re constantly in his cross hairs, so you must protect yourself with God’s Word and prayer. 2) Identify the sin you’re most prone to. The Bible says, ‘Lay aside … the sin which so easily ensnares’ (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV). Why? Because the area of your greatest weakness is the one in which you’ll constantly be attacked. 3) Keep your spiritual tank full. ‘The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace’ (Romans 8:6 NIV 1984 Edition). 4) Walk in God’s strength, not your own. Does the fight ever end? No, but God’s power plus your choice to obey and keep fighting, always lead to clear and lasting victory.
TUESDAY 16 AUGUST
‘Why are you so fearful?’ Mark 4:40 NKJV
Don’t Be Afraid (1)
Notice how the disciples reacted to the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and see if you recognise any of the same traits in yourself: 1) Fear makes us doubt God’s care. The disciples asked Jesus, ‘Do You not care that we are perishing?’ (v. 38 NKJV). They didn’t ask about His strength: ‘Can you still the storm?’ Or His knowledge: ‘Are you aware of the storm?’ Or His know-how: ‘Do you have any experience with storms?’ Instead they voiced doubts about His character: ‘Do you not care?’ If you let it, fear will erode your confidence in God’s love and make you forget His faithfulness. 2) Fear makes us reach for control. Jesus was asleep, so the disciples woke Him and said, ‘Do something, quick!’ Fear comes from a perceived loss of control. When we’re afraid, we grab for a component of life that we can manage - like our diet, or our job, or the neatness of our house, or in many cases - people. The more insecure we feel, the more controlling we tend to become. 3) Fear makes us forgetful. The Bible says, ‘He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick’ (Matthew 8:16 NKJV). What a résumé! But fear gives us spiritual amnesia; it makes us forget what Jesus has already done and how good He has been to us. And what was Jesus’ response? ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ Faith doesn’t eliminate fear; it silences it, robs it of its power, and draws us closer to God. And when that happens things begin to change for the better.
WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST
‘Oh, that [we] would give thanks to the LORD for his goodness.’ Psalm 107:8 NKJV
Don’t Be Afraid (2)
When you’ve been through hard times, it can make you want to cut back on trusting God, and start playing it safe. When you’ve been through back-to-back storms, the security of the harbour starts looking good. Now it’s okay to rest and regroup, but don’t settle for safety and miss what God has planned for you. The Bible says: ‘Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters … see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro … stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness’ (vv. 23-31 NKJV). Where do we see God’s wonders? In life’s storms! Jesus issued 125 recorded commandments. Twenty-one of them are ‘Don’t be afraid’ or ‘Have courage’. The second most common commandment, to love God and your neighbour, appears on only eight occasions. That means the one statement Jesus made more than any other was ‘Don’t be afraid!’ Why? Because He wants you to trust Him more!
THURSDAY 18 AUGUST
‘Why are you so fearful?’ Mark 4:40 NKJV
Don’t Be Afraid (3)
Following Jesus invariably means going through storms. When you’re in over your head and sinking fast, you learn things about the Lord you’d never know otherwise. At first you wonder, ‘How’d I get into this mess?’ Then you start to see His hand at work and end up saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’ (v. 41 NKJV). The disciples finally reached a place where they were willing to follow Jesus - without question. And that’s God’s plan for you. ‘Don’t be afraid’ isn’t a call to naivety or ignorance. God doesn’t expect us to be oblivious to the challenges life brings. But as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus the waves couldn’t take him under. So look to God, stand on His Word, and recall His goodness. The Bible says, ‘We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it’ (Hebrews 2:1 NASB). Do whatever it takes to keep your eyes on the Lord. C. S. Lewis wrote: ‘Moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I’m a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable … that’s why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off”, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.’ So the word for you today is: Don’t be afraid.
FRIDAY 19 AUGUST
‘My peace I give you … Do not let your hearts be troubled and … afraid.’ John 14:27 NIV (2011 Edition)
‘It is well with my soul’
The peace Jesus gives brings a sense of assurance that no matter what happens you know ‘it is well with my soul’. He says to us: ‘My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and … afraid.’ The peace Jesus gives doesn’t depend on conditions and circumstances. It comes from knowing you’re God’s child and that your Father controls the universe, loves you and always has your best interests at heart. That’s why people who’ve lost everything will often tell you they wouldn’t trade what they’ve learned, even if it meant recouping all their losses. Joni Erikson Tada discovered a supernatural peace when an accident confined her to a wheelchair, and Corrie Ten Boom found it in a Nazi death camp. Missionary Elisabeth Elliot found it ministering to the Indian tribe who massacred her husband. She wrote, ‘Only in acceptance lies peace … not in resignation.’ There’s a big difference! Author Creath Davis points out that: ‘Resignation is surrender to fate. Acceptance is surrender to God. Resignation lies down quietly in an empty universe. Acceptance rises up to meet the God who fills that universe with purpose and destiny. Resignation says, “I can’t.” Acceptance says, “God can.” Resignation paralyses the life process. Acceptance releases the process for its greatest creativity. Resignation says, “It’s all over for me.” Acceptance says, “Now that I’m here, what’s next, Lord?” Resignation says, “What a waste.” Acceptance says, “In what redemptive way will you use this mess, Lord?” Resignation says, “I’m alone.” Acceptance says, “I belong to you, Lord.”’
SATURDAY 20 AUGUST
‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Romans 12:2 NKJV
Renew Your Mind with God’s Word
The most important thing you can do every day - is renew your mind with God’s Word. When you get that right, everything else will begin to fall into place. You’ll think and act differently, so you’ll get different results. Do you remember the old TV series The Beverly Hillbillies? What made the show so interesting is that Jed and his family had been set free from their past - a life of poverty back in the Ozarks. But even after they moved to California’s Beverly Hills, they continued in their ‘hillbilly’ ways. Their location had changed, but their mindset hadn’t. The same was true of the Israelites. They had a slave mentality. Even though they were free and God was providing their every need, the minute a problem came up they wanted to go back to Egypt. They couldn’t enter tomorrow because they were still carrying the baggage of yesterday! Read these words carefully: ‘Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it’ (Hebrews 4:1 NKJV). You ask, ‘But aren’t God’s promises guaranteed?’ Yes, if you do what He says! God promised to bless you financially - if you tithe and sow generously. He promised to direct your paths - if you acknowledge Him in all your ways. He promised to forgive you - if you forgive others. You only ‘prove what is that good … acceptable … perfect will of God’ by continually renewing your mind! So the word for you today is: Renew your mind with God’s Word.
SUNDAY 21 AUGUST
‘In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me.’ Isaiah 49:2 NKJV
Hidden by Design
When you’re called to serve God in a particular capacity, it’s not unusual to go through a period of anonymity where you feel invisible. Isaiah was called of God ‘from the womb’ (v. 1 NKJV). But he experienced a season of being hidden ‘in the shadow’ while God perfected his ministry. When a vision takes a long time to come to fruition, and you’ve sacrificed and worked without recognition or seeing results, it’s easy to feel like you’re wasting your life. Isaiah was human too. He got discouraged and said, ‘I have laboured to no purpose … spent my strength … for nothing’ (v. 4 NIVUK 1984 Edition). But just because you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s true. ‘God … rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6 NIV 2011 Edition), and you’re no exception. It took thirty years before Jesus started His public ministry. Moses, David, John the Baptist, and Paul endured years of obscurity before they were brought to the forefront. In God’s Kingdom there are no overnight sensations or flash-in-the-pan successes. Christian author Beth Jones says: ‘Anyone who wants to be used of God will experience hidden years in the backside of the desert. During that time the Lord is polishing, sharpening and preparing us to fit into His bow, so at the right time, like “a polished shaft” He can launch us into fruitful service. The invisible years are years of serving, studying, being faithful in another person’s ministry and doing the behind-the-scenes work.’ The Bible says, ‘God is not unjust; he will not forget your work’ (Hebrews 6:10 NIV 2011 Edition). Be patient; when the time is right He will bring forth the fruit He placed inside you.
MONDAY 22 AUGUST
‘My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.’ Job 23:11 NKJV
Stay Focused on Your Mission
Many of our endeavours in life fail for one reason - broken focus. We allow ourselves to get distracted. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade; in short, in all management of human affairs.’ Where should you focus your concentration? On your mission! And when you make a mistake don’t chase after it. Don’t try to defend it. Don’t throw good money after it. When you make a mistake acknowledge it. If you need to, seek forgiveness from God and the person you have hurt. And when possible try to make amends. Once you’ve done these things, refocus your attention on your mission and move on. Keep your eye on what it is you desire to do. You’ll never meet a person focused on yesterday who had a better tomorrow. John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, observed: ‘The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is still the same problem you had last year.’ A problem resolved is a springboard to future success, to bigger and better things. The key is to focus on what you’re learning, not losing. When you do that you open the door to future possibilities. Dr Norman Vincent Peale said, ‘Positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about a problem. The two together determine what you do about a problem.’ And in the end, that’s what matters.
TUESDAY 23 AUGUST
‘Be mindful to be a blessing.’ Galatians 6:10 AMP (Classic Edition)
When someone hurts you, you have three options: 1) hurt them back; 2) avoid them altogether; 3) pray for them and look for ways to bless them (see Matthew 5:44-45). Paul says: ‘As occasion and opportunity open up … let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but … doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing.’ We’re so caught up with how others treat us that we’ve little or no concern about how we treat them. We’re afraid of being taken advantage of, especially if our past experience with someone has been painful. Not only do fear and dread make us supersensitive to everything they say and do, we may misinterpret their motives and see them in a negative light. Without question, it’s difficult not to be concerned that others will treat you badly if they already have a proven track record. That’s why it’s so important not to think about it at all (see Philippians 3:13 and Isaiah 43:18). Does this mean the person won’t have to account for how they treated you? No. The Bible says, ‘Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another’ (Romans 14:12-13 NIV 1984 Edition). Hand the situation over to God - and refuse to take it back. Then, ‘Be mindful to be a blessing.’ In other words, occupy your thoughts with ways in which you can be helpful. When you do that you’ll have no time to dwell on personal grievances. Plus, it gives God an opportunity to work on them - and you.
WEDNESDAY 24 AUGUST
‘Do not let sin control the way you live.’ Romans 6:12 NLT
Give Yourselves to God
When someone says, ‘I can’t help myself; it’s just the way I am,’ they are right, but only partially right! Researchers identified more than a hundred identical twins that had been separated at birth. They were raised in various cultures, religions, and locations. By comparing their similarities and their differences it became clear that as much as 70 per cent of their personality - was inherited. Their DNA determined such qualities as creativity, wisdom, loving-kindness, vigour, longevity, intelligence, and even the joy of living. Consider the ‘Jim twins’ who were separated until they were thirty-nine years old. Both married women named Linda, owned dogs named Toy, suffered from migraine headaches, chain-smoked, liked beer, drove Chevys, and served as sheriff’s deputies. Their personalities and attitudes were virtual carbon copies. What do these findings mean? Are we puppets on a string, playing out a predetermined course without free will or personal choices? Not at all. Unlike animals, we’re capable of rational thought and independent action. We don’t have to act on every sexual urge, for example, despite our genetic underpinnings. Heredity may nudge us in a particular direction, but our impulses can be brought under control. This is where the new birth comes in. God gives you a new nature and the power to overcome your old one. Paul addresses it: ‘Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life’ (vv. 12-13 NLT).
THURSDAY 25 AUGUST
‘Let us stop passing judgment on one another.’ Romans 14:13 NIV (2011 Edition)
Instead of Judging People, Let’s Love Them
You can work alongside and pray for someone who’s having an extramarital affair, without having one yourself. Remember, you were a sinner before you were saved by the grace of God, so act with humility and don’t fall into the trap of self-righteousness. As Merv Rosell says, ‘When God forgives, He consigns the offense to everlasting forgetfulness,’ so show grace when you encounter somebody whose lifestyle makes you uncomfortable. Learn as much as possible about them and allow your interactions to dispel any preconceptions and prejudices. See them as hurting individuals loved by God - people who need the same grace you received. When you love the unlovely, you’re just doing what God did for you. Just because somebody’s ‘different’, doesn’t mean you should dismiss them or consider them inferior. You don’t want to be judged or demeaned because of your colour, culture, or countenance, so don’t do it to others! Because the Bible is clear about not emulating others in their sinful practices, we can be tempted to think we’re better than they are. That’s the sin of pride! Sometimes we think if we love and accept certain people, we’re condoning their sin. No, the truth lies in remaining respectful and accepting others the way Jesus did. Whether it was racial differences (Samaritans), lifestyle differences (the five-times-divorced woman at the well), or class differences (Nicodemus), Jesus loved and accepted people as they were, while inspiring them to a higher standard.
FRIDAY 26 AUGUST
‘To be conformed to the likeness of his Son.’ Romans 8:29 NIV (1984 Edition)
The Ultimate Purpose of Prayer
The Bible says, ‘Those God foreknew he … predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.’ When you read the preceding verses in the chapter you discover God does this through prayer. This should encourage you to pray. Many times we don’t pray because we don’t think anything’s happening. But with God, something’s always happening! We wonder, ‘When is He going to work?’ What we fail to understand is - He’s always working. When it comes to prayer He’s either answering the way you hoped, or changing your heart through the Spirit’s intercession to bring your prayer into harmony with His will. You say, ‘But I don’t see anything happening.’ When you plant a seed, you don’t come back the next day expecting green shoots and leaves. Does that mean nothing’s happening? No, a host of necessary processes are taking place below the ground where you can’t see them. Don’t make the mistake of thinking because you don’t see the evidence that nothing’s happening. It’s just not harvest time yet. One way in which God is making us more like Jesus is by helping us to pray the way Jesus prayed, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done’ (Luke 22:42 KJV). That means when your prayer lines up with His will, He’s already working on it even though you can’t see it. And if your prayer isn’t in accordance with His will, He’s working to change your request by changing you. Unanswered prayer can be as big a blessing as answered prayer, when it keeps us from violating God’s will. And what is God’s will? To make you more like Jesus!
SATURDAY 27 AUGUST
‘Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.’ 2 Chronicles 20:12 NKJV
Overcoming Temptation (1)
When Jesus told Peter he would soon deny his Lord, Peter boasted, ‘Others may, but not me!’ Yet within a few hours he was swearing and disavowing any knowledge of Jesus. It can happen to any of us. The Bible says, ‘Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own [particular] desires and enticed’ (James 1:14 NKJV). We all have areas of vulnerability which, if not disciplined by character and commitment, have the potential to defeat or even destroy us. What can you do? 1) Recognise it. Before you yield to temptation you usually go through certain stages. By neglecting prayer and Bible reading you become indifferent to God, insensitive to danger, and find yourself drawn like a moth to a flame. Then you begin to rationalise your disobedience and think, ‘Nobody knows. What harm will it do?’ And the more you silence the voice of conscience, the stronger your carnal appetites become. Then you surround yourself with people who do the same things, or are at least willing to look the other way. Jesus said, ‘Pray … that you may not enter into temptation’ (Mark 14:38 AMP Classic Edition). Pray for strength before the temptation comes! 2) Reach for help. When Jehoshaphat came up against an enemy too big to handle alone, he prayed, ‘We have no power against this great multitude … nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.’ Jehoshaphat knew he was no match for the Enemy, and he knew where to turn for help. What’s the secret of victory? Lean less on yourself and more on God!
SUNDAY 28 AUGUST
I have given you … [physical and mental strength]. Luke 10:19 AMP (Classic Edition)
Overcoming Temptation (2)
Here’s a plan for victory: 1) No matter how often you fall, get back up! ‘Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again’ (Proverbs 24:16 NIV 1984 Edition). Becoming spiritually mature is a lifelong process. It happens every time you turn to God in weakness and allow Him to do for you what you can’t do for yourself. 2) Don’t deny it, deal with it. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted’ (Psalm 34:18 NASB). God always responds with grace to a repentant heart. He’ll meet you at your lowest point, walk with you through the valley of regret and repentance, and bring you out stronger. 3) Write down what you’ve learned through temptation. As you reflect on it you’ll see what needs to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2 KJV). And be sure to write down new habits you want to integrate into your life - prayer, accountability to a friend, Bible reading and memorisation, identifying weak spots, and watching yourself more closely. 4) Use what you’ve learned. Jesus told Peter: ‘Satan hath desired to have you … But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:31-32 KJV). Let today mark a new beginning by using what you’ve learned not only to avoid falling again, but to help others facing temptation. 5) Believe you can walk in victory. Jesus said, ‘I have given you … [physical and mental strength …] over all the power that the enemy [possesses].’ Get rid of your ‘I can’t’ attitude and draw today on God’s strength.
MONDAY 29 AUGUST
‘He ran from the house.’ Genesis 39:12 NLT
Overcoming Temptation (3)
The Bible says, ‘Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife … began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household…How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house’ (vv. 6-12 NLT). Note the words: ‘She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day.’ Joseph’s temptation kept happening when he was around a certain person: Potiphar’s wife. And it kept happening when he was in a certain place: Potiphar’s house. So he ran. Not because he was weak - but because he was wise! He understood that if you hang around temptation too long you’re playing with fire and setting yourself up to get ‘burned’. So, what people and what places do you need to avoid? What sources of temptation do you need to remove from your life in order to live victoriously? Remember the old Kenny Rogers song: ‘You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em; know when to walk away and know when to run’? God isn’t dishonoured when you run - you’re dishonoured when you don’t!
TUESDAY 30 AUGUST
‘Its fruit looked delicious … So she … ate it.’ Genesis 3:6 NLT
Overcoming Temptation (4)
Let’s look at the first time in Scripture anyone was tempted and see what we can learn. The Bible says, ‘The serpent was the shrewdest of all the [creatures] the LORD God had made … he asked the woman, “Did God really say…?”’ (v. 1 NLT). First, Satan will blind you to all the good things God has in store for you. Then he’ll take mood-altering substances like drugs or alcohol, or somebody else’s husband or wife, or Internet porn, and tell you it won’t hurt you. Don’t bite! He’s a liar! Don’t believe him! ‘Temptation comes from our own desires … These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters’ (James 1:14-16 NLT). Any weakness that’s constantly indulged, excused, denied, or hidden has the power to enslave you. Failure to identify and target your weakness strengthens it. Ignoring your areas of vulnerability makes defeat inevitable. Satan has assigned certain people to feed your weaknesses. Be discerning. Your weakness will be drawn to any friendship that accepts it, enjoys it and feeds on it. It has an agenda of its own - to take over your life and sabotage God’s plan for you. It’ll always bond with the wrong people and make you uncomfortable in the presence of the right ones. And it can emerge at any time, including your latter years. So how do you overcome your weakness? Through willpower? No, through God’s power! And it’s available to you today - so reach for it!
WEDNESDAY 31 AUGUST
‘Your love for one another is growing.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT
Growing in Love
When Paul says, ‘Your love for one another is growing,’ it’s not the kind where life’s perfect and everybody accommodates you. God’s intention is to ‘grow’ you into the kind of love that’s not defined by your feelings, but a sacrificial love that says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20 NIV 2011 Edition). It’s possible to be in love with the idea of a perfect marriage, without actually loving your mate. Or the dream of what your kids could become, if only they’d follow your advice. But when it comes to loving a rebellious teen who acts like ‘the other side of the family’, it’s a growing process that puts your love to the test. Jesus said, ‘As I have loved you … you must love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV 2011 Edition), and He never asks us to do anything without giving us the ability to do it. So are you ready to do a little growing? Author Kristin Armstrong says: ‘When we’re hurt it’s common to withdraw. But the worst thing a parent can do is to withhold affection in response to a child’s behaviour. A child’s heart grows when it’s nurtured with unconditional love. Affection doesn’t depend on behaviour, mood or circumstances. Being pleasing does not equate to being lovable. Imagine if Jesus loved us only when we behaved perfectly. We’d never experience His affection, and consequently we’d wither away. And since Jesus is our example, we need to love others with Christlike grace. He loves us according to His capacity, not according to the degree of our merit. We must love others … not by our standards but by His.’
THURSDAY 1 SEPTEMBER
‘Who works out everything in conformity with … his will.’ Ephesians 1:11 NIV (2011 Edition)
Your Personalised Road Map
The Bible says before you were born: ‘Every day of [your] life was recorded … Every moment … laid out before a single day had passed’ (Psalm 139:16 NLT). God personalised a road map for your life ‘in conformity with … his will’. And it’s your job to discover it and walk within its confines. Respected pastor Terry Nance says: ‘You may know your ultimate destination, but need guidance on how to get there. First and foremost, “God’s Word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path” (Psalm 119:105). He sees the big picture … the shortcuts and pitfalls … Don’t look for external guidance … the Holy Spirit lives inside you, and it’s from within that you’ll get the inside track.’ Meditate on these Scriptures and make them personal prayers: ‘God has made us what we are … to do good works, which [He] planned in advance for us to live our lives doing’ (Ephesians 2:10 NCV). ‘The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives’ (Psalm 37:23 NLT). ‘You clear the way for me, and now I won’t stumble’ (Psalm 18:36 CEV). ‘Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take’ (Proverbs 3:6 NLT). ‘Behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or … left’ (Isaiah 30:21 NLT). At the end of his life Paul could say, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7 KJV). Notice, sometimes Paul had to ‘fight’ to stay on course, but by God’s grace he made it - and so will you!
FRIDAY 2 SEPTEMBER
‘The children God has graciously given your servant.’ Genesis 33:5 NIV (2011 Edition)
Dad, Treasure Your Children
We live in a day when kids have never been given more of the things they want, and less of the things they need. What do they need? You! Not trinkets, treasures, and toys, but your love and your time. Read these unsettling words in a Newsweek column entitled, ‘Dear Dads, Save Your Sons’, by psychologist Christopher Bacorn. He tells about an anxious mother in her mid-thirties who came to his office with her fifteen-year-old son. The boy’s dad had left four years before. Since then the teenager had descended into alcohol, gang membership, and violence. The mother had nowhere else to turn, and it was obvious the boy was at best a hostile participant. After attempting for thirty minutes to crack the steel vault of this boy’s heart, Dr Bacorn realised the futility of it all. He wrote these poignant and sad words: ‘I’ve come to believe that most adolescent boys can’t make use of professional counseling … What a boy can use, and all too often doesn’t have, is the fellowship of men - at least one man who pays attention to him, who spends time with him, who admires him. A boy needs a man he can look up to. What he doesn’t need is a shrink … As a nation we’re racked by youth violence, overrun by gangs, guns, and drugs. The great majority of youthful offenders are male, most without fathers involved in their lives in any useful way.’ In Genesis we read that Jacob was a successful businessman, but he discovered that his greatest earthly treasure was ‘the children God has graciously given to your servant’. Dad, have you discovered that?
SATURDAY 3 SEPTEMBER
‘God … comforts us … so that we can comfort [others].’ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV (2011 Edition)
Ministering to Others (1)
Years ago a lady visited an orphanage and asked the matron, ‘Is there a child here nobody has offered to adopt?’ The matron replied, ‘There is. She’s ten years old, not much to look at, and she has a hunchback.’ The lady said, ‘That’s the child I want!’ Thirty-five years later the director of the Orphanage Inspection Department in Iowa submitted the following report on a state-run facility: ‘This home is outstanding. It’s clean, the food’s good, the children are well-cared-for, and the atmosphere is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The matron, Mercy Goodfaith, has a soul that oozes love; she has such beautiful eyes I forgot how homely her face was - or that she was a hunchback.’ Because a Good Samaritan had the courage to love and nurture a little girl others overlooked, Mercy Goodfaith went on to share that same love with hundreds of other orphans. Paul says, ‘God … comforts us … so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we … receive.’ And Billy Graham adds: ‘Those who have suffered the most are best able to comfort others … to empathize with [their] afflictions because of what they’ve experienced … Our sufferings may be hard to bear, but our goal should be to learn all we can from what we’re called to endure so we can fulfil a ministry of comfort as Jesus did. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18 NIV 2011 Edition). The sufferer becomes the comforter in the service of the Lord.’
SUNDAY 4 SEPTEMBER
‘Therefore comfort one another with these words.’ 1 Thessalonians 4:18 NKJV
Ministering to Others (2)
Professor Tony Campolo once attended the funeral of an acquaintance, and by mistake ended up at the wrong funeral parlour. The body of an elderly man was laid out, and his widow was the only mourner there. She seemed so lonely, Campolo stayed for the funeral and then accompanied her to the cemetery. After the committal service, as they were driving away Campolo confessed that he hadn’t actually known the lady’s husband. ‘I thought so,’ she replied. ‘I didn’t recognise you. But it doesn’t matter. You’ll never, ever, know what this means to me.’ Philip Yancey writes: ‘Simple availability is the most powerful force we can contribute … We rightly disparage Job’s three friends for their insensitive response to his suffering. But read the account again: “When they came, they sat in silence beside Job for seven days before opening their mouths” … those were the most eloquent moments they spent with him. Instinctively I shrink back from people in pain. Who knows if they want to talk about their predicament or not? Do they want to be consoled or cheered up? What good can my presence possibly do? My mind spins out these rationalizations and as a result I end up doing the worst thing possible: I stay away … No one offers the name of a philosopher when I ask, “Who helped you the most?” Most often they describe a quiet, unassuming person … who was there … who listened more than they talked, who didn’t keep glancing down at a watch, who hugged and touched, and cried … someone who was available and came on the sufferer’s terms, not their own.’ That’s how you minister to others.
MONDAY 5 SEPTEMBER
‘Then cometh the devil.’ Luke 8:12 KJV
When You’re Not Expecting It (1)
Anne Graham Lotz writes: ‘In the course of a week, the hot-water heater broke, water pipes burst … the bathroom showerhead fell off … [and] I was confronted with friction between family members and problems with my ministry staff. I was tempted to lose my temper, to worry instead of trust, and to neglect my prayer life. What looked like ordinary frustration … was something more sinister … Satan attacks our weakened defences in the mundane areas of our lives.’ The Bible says that immediately following the spiritual blessing He received at His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert ‘to be tempted by the devil’ (see Matthew 4:1-11). There are important lessons here: 1) Don’t rest in success. After the benediction comes the battle. What incredible blessing has God recently given you? Whether it involves your ministry, family, career, or your personal walk with God, watch out! Satan targets us when we’re off guard. 2) Stay in God’s will. Have you ever thought, ‘If it’s this hard it can’t be God’s will’ and decided to quit? Just because you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you’re immune. Jesus was in God’s will when the Enemy attacked Him. When things look bleak, don’t ‘lean … on your own understanding’; that’s the time to ‘trust in the LORD with all your heart’ (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV). 3) Know the Scripture. Every time Jesus was attacked He countered with, ‘It is written.’ God’s Word is called ‘the sword of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 6:17 NIV 2011 Edition), because it’s our primary offensive weapon against - evil (see v. 16). Jesus used it to defeat Satan, and so must you.
TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER
‘We are not ignorant of [Satan’s] devices.’ 2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV
When You’re Not Expecting It (2)
On the heels of a spiritual victory it’s tempting to let down your guard, but that’s when you’re most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. You can’t afford to be ‘ignorant of [Satan’s] devices’. Even Jesus wasn’t exempt. In a display of supernatural power, He fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. After a miracle like that most of us would have decided it was time to kick back and take it easy for a while. But instead of basking in the afterglow, Jesus ‘departed to the mountain to pray’ (Mark 6:46 NKJV). It wasn’t apparent at the time, but He was about to face one of the fiercest storms of His ministry (see Mark 6:48). Christian author Henry Blackaby observes: ‘The disciples raced headlong into the tempest unprepared, but…Jesus entered the storm prepared and met the crisis with all the power of God…Stand guard over your high points…when you experience God mightily…go immediately to a place of prayer so the Father can prepare you for what’s to come.’ Times have changed but human nature hasn’t. We’re still our same old predictable selves - and Satan knows it. That’s why he stays ‘poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping’ (1 Peter 5:8 MSG). To stop him from gaining an advantage: 1) ‘Resist [him] and he will flee’ (James 4:7 NIV 2011 Edition); 2) Surround yourself with godly companions (see Psalm 1:1); 3) Stay connected to God through His Word and prayer. Vern McLellan said, ‘In the morning prayer opens the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings, and in the evening it shuts us up under His protection and safeguard.’ That’s a fail-safe strategy you should adopt.
WEDNESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER
‘When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were around me.’ Job 29:5 NKJV
Spend More Time with Your Family
Here’s a true saying: ‘The family that prays together, stays together.’ Here’s another true saying: ‘The family that eats together and communicates, raises well-adjusted children.' When the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center studied five hundred teenagers, here’s what they discovered: children whose parents ate dinner with them five times a week or more were the least likely to be on drugs, to be depressed, or to be in trouble with the law. They were also more likely to do well in school and be surrounded by a supportive circle of friends. Even when families met together at a fast-food restaurant they got the same results. By contrast, the more poorly adjusted teens ate with their parents only three times a week or less. What do these findings mean? 1) You need to make time to be involved with your children on a daily basis, especially during the formative years. 2) When you give your children things you give them short-term pleasure and excitement, but when you give them time you give them self-worth. This may call for working fewer hours or eliminating certain activities, but it’s an investment you’ll never regret. Job was one of the wealthiest men in his generation. But after tragedy struck and all ten of his children died in a single day, he looked back and wrote, ‘The Almighty was yet with me, when my children were around me.’ You need to ask yourself: ‘Am I spending enough time with my family?’ If you don’t like the answer, start changing things.
THURSDAY 8 SEPTEMBER
‘Giving, not getting, is the way.’ Luke 6:38 MSG
Start Giving to Others
Generosity isn’t just about money. Lots of people say, ‘As soon as I get rich I’ll become more generous.’ But the greatest givers often have the least money. Grandmothers on meagre pensions are sending a few pounds each month to help build orphanages. People barely making ends meet are giving to feed the hungry. Retired employees are mentoring younger workers. Single people with limited resources are spending their evenings working with the homeless or families in need. No matter where you are financially, you can begin a lifestyle of giving. If you can come up with the money for a nice car, dining out, movie tickets, dating, and other leisure activities, chances are you can find something to give if you really want to. Jesus said, ‘Give away your life; you’ll find life … not merely given back - [but] given back with bonus and blessing’ (v. 38 MSG). Want a bonus? Want a blessing? Start giving your time, treasure and talent to others. Jesus either lied or He told the truth, and you need to find out which. If you believe He told the truth you’d be foolish to withhold instead of giving. Norman Vincent Peale said: ‘When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you’ll be able to cope with your own more effectively. Somehow the act o