Let God tell you who you are!

Let God tell you who you are!

1 Chronicles 4:9 NKJV

The name Jabez means “pain and trouble.” Can you imagine walking into a room and hearing someone say, “Here comes trouble,” or someone describing you as “a pain”? And what’s more, Jabez’ mother labelled him that way the day he was born because “she gave birth to him in pain.” But Jabez refused to wear the label or let that name define him. Instead of looking back at his past and listening to his critics, he turned to God and prayed: “‘Oh, that You would bless me…and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (v. 10 NKJV). The label on the outside of a bottle tells you what’s on the inside. And when you let others label you, invariably they make your world too small. And once you accept the label they place on you, you start to believe that’s who you are and that you’ll never amount to anything more than that. No, only God can tell you who you are! So do what Jabez did – go directly to the source: God. He created you. He redeemed you. He calls you. He equips you. He empowers you. He rewards you. So when people try to limit you by putting labels on you, God steps in and says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1 NKJV). The truth is that God loves and accepts you, and His approval trumps everybody else’s disapproval!

Soul food: 2 Chr 5-7John 11:1-16Ps 83:9-18Prov 26:17-22

 

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Come back to God!

Come back to God!

Luke 15:20 NKJV

The Bible says concerning the Prodigal Son: “When he was a great way off, his father… had compassion…ran…fell on his neck and kissed him.” The truth is, you’re not beyond the reach of God’s grace, so your future can be greater than your past! When he was “a great way off,” his father ran to him. Why? Because his relationship with his son wasn’t based on performance, but on the fact that he’d given him life and brought him into the family. When you think about the things his father gave him that day, you realize the significance of each item. (1) The robe. That confirmed his identity as a son. God doesn’t see you in your weakness; He sees you clothed in the righteousness of Christ (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV). (2) The ring. This was a signet ring with the family seal that gave him back authority to do business in his father’s name. (3) The shoes. Household servants didn’t wear shoes, only family members did. He returned home thinking the best he could hope for was a job in the servants’ quarters. But his father not only restored his identity and authority, he restored him to full son-ship in the family. (4) The party. Back then when you rebelled against your father’s authority and left home, they conducted “a ceremony of shame,” which meant you could never return. Not this father – he threw a party! The point? Because Jesus took our shame! “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT). The word for you today is – come back to God!

Soul food: 2 Chr 1-4John 10:22-42Ps 83:1-8Prov 26:13-16

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Resistance training

Resistance training

James 4:7 NKJV

Have you ever watched someone doing resistance training? They get stronger every day as they press more and more weight. That’s how to view the verse “resist the devil.” Satan is out to do three things: “Kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). Destroy what? Everything God has given you! And he doesn’t play fair. Using a whole arsenal of weapons, he’ll attack your mind, your health, your marriage, your children, your finances, and your character. And if you’re a spiritual weakling, he’ll crush you! Satan studies you. He knows your quitting points, and he’ll push you to the brink every chance he gets. So what should you do? Push back – and keep pushing! Use every spiritual weapon God has given you – prayer, praise, His Word and fellowship. It’s time to turn the tables on the Enemy and start using him as your spiritual gym! The Amplified Bible talks about “the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 AMPC). When you’re filled with God’s Spirit, He will fight in you, through you, and for you. When that happens, Satan reaches the place where he knows he can’t defeat you on a particular front, so what does he do? He attacks you on a different one! But with victory after victory being chalked up, you develop the boldness and strength to defeat him on that front too. With enough resistance training under your belt, you’ll experience the joy of walking in the truth of this wonderful promise: “God…will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20 NIV).

Soul food: 1 Chr 26:20-29:30John 10:11-21Ps 133Prov 26:7-12

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Anger management

Anger management

Ephesians 4:26 NLT

The first mention of anger in Scripture is when Cain got so angry with his brother Abel that he murdered him. Sixty percent of all murders in America are committed by family members. But anger not only kills others, it can kill you. Dr. Redford Williams, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University, states: “The hostility and anger associated with Type-A behavior is a major contributor to heart disease. People who struggle with anger are five times more likely to suffer coronary heart disease, and people with heart disease more than double their risk of a heart attack when they get angry.” Of course, there’s a difference between anger and mere aggravation. A little girl asked her father to explain that difference. So he picked up the phone, dialed a number, allowed his daughter to listen in, and when the other person answered, he said, “Hello. Is Melvin there?” Back came the answer, “There’s no one here named Melvin. Why don’t you look up numbers before you dial them?” The father waited a moment, then re-dialed the number. “Hello. Is Melvin there?” The man yelled, “I just told you there’s no Melvin here! Don’t call this number again!” then slammed down the receiver. The father looked at his daughter and said, “Honey, that was anger. Now let me show you aggravation.” He dialed the number again and when a voice roared back, “Hello!” her dad calmly said, “Hi. This is Melvin, have there been any calls for me?” The word anger is only one letter short of the word danger. So ask God to help you manage your anger. He will!

Soul food: 1 Chr 19:1-23:20John 9:24-41Ps 115Prov 25:26-28

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Forgive – and set yourself free!

Forgive – and set yourself free!

Philippians 3:13 NIV

The Bible says that the greater the offense, the greater the need to forgive your offender in order to go on with your life. Remember when you were growing up, how your parents would tell you to close the door? That’s because in winter you were letting in the cold and in summer you were letting in the heat. Forgiveness shuts the door on your past! Paul, who martyred Christians before becoming one, writes, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching…unto those things which are before.” Only when you release your grip on the past can you secure your grip on the future. Forgetting is a decision, one you sometimes have to make daily or even hourly. Bottom line: You need to forgive every time the issue that’s hurting you rears its head (See Matthew 18:21-22). Complete healing can take months or years. When someone hurts you deeply, you must purpose in your heart to keep forgiving them until you’re free from their influence. No matter what they took from you through abuse, abandonment, betrayal, manipulation, or deceit, bitterness will take more! Like making a rod for your own back, unforgiveness lets the person who hurt you keep doing it. So until the issue is resolved, you may have to get down on your knees every day and pray, “Lord, by an act of my will, I forgive ________ and ask You to bless them. I’m turning them over to You and getting on with my life.” There’s no shortcut – it’s the only path to freedom!

Soul food: 1 Chr 16-18John 9:13-23Ps 105:1-15Prov 25:23-25

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Don’t brag about it

Don’t brag about it

Luke 17:10 NKJV

If you have a tendency to remind people of all the good things you do and the sacrifices you make, read what Jesus said: “When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say…’We have done what was our duty to do.'” We all deserve recognition for the good we do, and we thrive on appreciation. But lots of times we don’t get it, so we’re left with three choices: (1) We can succumb to self-pity and go around complaining about how the world doesn’t treat us right or give us a fair shake. (2) We can give way to resentment, walk around with a chip on our shoulder, and end up wondering why people don’t want to be around us. (3) We can adopt the attitude Jesus taught and say, “I’m only doing what God expects of me. And knowing He is pleased with me is reward enough.” If you try to run on the fuel of other people’s encouragement and praise, when it doesn’t come you’ll have no joy. And that’s bad because “the joy of the Lord [the joy that comes from knowing you walk under the smile of His approval] is your strength” (Ne 8:10). Living this way will make you a self-starter and a successful finisher. And when that happens, you’ll find favour at home and on the job, and end up with more friends than you know what to do with. Plus your real reward, the one that matters most, is guaranteed when you stand before the Master one day and hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Soul food: 1 Chr 10:1-12:22John 8:42-59Ps 49Prov 25:18-20

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The healing power of forgiveness

The healing power of forgiveness

Luke 6:28 NKJV

Night after night, Mary was beaten by her father when he came home from the bar in a drunken rage. So the first chance she got, she left home. Given time, most physical scars begin to heal, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. They can keep you stuck in the pain of the past and cost you valuable relationships. Even the people who love you can grow weary and despair that you’ll ever get better despite their efforts to help you. Do you know someone like that? Are you that someone? Do you want to move toward healing and find joy? You can. Mary found it when she decided to forgive her dad and start praying for him. That’s when she started to become spiritually and emotionally whole. And she kept on forgiving him and praying for him until her old memories no longer held her prisoner. Jesus said, “Pray for those who spitefully use you.” The word “spiteful” implies you did nothing to cause or deserve it, that your offender hurt you for reasons you may never understand. That’s why Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV). That doesn’t let your offender off the hook. They will live with the guilt of what they did, and unless they turn to God for forgiveness they’ll have no peace. But you will have peace! When you decide to forgive someone and pray for them, you take back your power and reclaim your life.

Soul food: 1 Chr 7:20-9:44John 8:31-41Ps 30Prov 25:13-17

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Delivered from people pleasing

Delivered from people pleasing

Acts 26:17 NKJV

Paul’s ministry began when he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. In that humbling encounter, the Lord said to him: “Rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and…things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light” (vv. 16-18 NKJV). Before Paul could be successful in his calling and minister effect ively, he had to be delivered from the fear of people. That included those who knew him well, and those he had yet to meet who didn’t know him at all. He had to be detoxed from the need for people’s approval. In essence, God was saying to Paul, “You’re just the mailman. Some days people will like what you deliver, other days they won’t. You have to deliver the mail anyway. So I’m setting you free from the fear of their rejection and the need for their acceptance.” Has God called you to do a particular job? Are you afraid you’ll make mistakes? Count on it – you will! Are you worried you’ll be criticized? It comes with the turf! People will disappoint you in 101 different ways, but if you’re determined to do the will of God, pray, “Lord, deliver me from people pleasing, so I can share with them what You’ve given to me.” Then get on with the job!

Soul food: 1 Chr 17:1-20Heb 11:4-12:3Ps 18:20-29Prov 4:18

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What’s the basis of your self-worth?

What’s the basis of your self-worth?

Hebrews 13:5 NLT

One morning, a businessman saw a fisherman lounging on his boat drinking coffee. “You’re back early,” he shouted. The sailor replied, “I’ve caught enough. I’m through for the day.” The businessman said, “Why not go out again? If you keep going out you can catch more fish and increase your income, buy a second boat, hire a crew, and become rich like me.” The man replied, “Why should I do that?” The businessman said, “So you’ll be free to do what you want and enjoy life.” Grinning, the fisherman said, “But that’s exactly what I’m doing right now! ” The Bible says, “Be satisfied with what you have,” yet many of us base our self-worth on what we own or achieve. We only feel good about ourselves when we’re involved in certain relationships or live in certain neighbourhoods or reach certain goals. We tell ourselves, “When I earn more money, or make company president, or lose fifty pounds, etc., I’ll be okay.” So, what’s the basis of your self-worth today? If you’re not sure, ask yourself, “What can I not live without?” Is there somebody you’re afraid will leave you? A job you’re too involved in? Is there something you need to accomplish before you feel complete? It is both scriptural and wise to have goals for your life, but don’t undermine yourself by believing that you’re “less than” because you’ve achieved or acquired less than someone else. The Scriptures teach that when you make God’s purposes your number one priority, “He will…give you all you need…For it gives your Father great happiness to give you [the benefits of] the Kingdom” (Luke 12:31-32 TLB).

Soul food: Deut 18:9-18Dan 2Isa 47:5-15Acts 16:16-34

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Matthew 19:5 NIV

Matthew 19:5 NIV

Parents, read this letter. “Dear Dad: Thanks for all the times you held me on your lap so I could see the ball game, and times you took me to the carnival and bought me hot dogs. I’ll always remember the day you carried me through the snow because I was so cold. You’ve been a great dad and I’ll never forget you. Suzie and I were talking the other day and wondering how you’re doing. Since we moved away we don’t get to see much of you. But one of these days we’re going to come and surprise you. Take care. I love you, your son.” Nice letter, eh? Nice, if you’ve prepared yourself for the time when you’re no longer needed to do what you’re doing today. If not, you can grow resentful toward those you sacrificed so much for and feel like you’re no longer important to them. God gave you your children on a lease, with an expiration date. Poet Kahlil Gibran said, “They come through you but not from you…You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” (See Psalm 127:4). Parenthood isn’t about ownership, it’s about stewardship. Your first assignment is to provide love to make them secure, laws to make them wise, light to walk in, and a lifestyle to follow. Your next assignment is to prepare them to go out into the world and put into practice the things you’ve taught them. So release them, celebrate the investment you’ve made, pray for them, and ask God, “What’s next?” It’s the way God planned it.

Soul food: 1 Chr 3-5John 8:1-20Ps 6Prov 25:1-7

 

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