The right mind-fuel?

The right mind-fuel?

Romans 12:2 NCV

What we consume determines our performance. That’s why you need to be careful what you feed your body, your children, your pets, and even your car. But what you feed your mind is equally important, especially when you consider these two laws that operate in life: (1) The law of cognition. Your thoughts influence your emotions and your behavior. The Bible says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus said a good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit (See Matthew 7:18). In other words, good thinking can’t produce bad results , just as bad thinking can’t produce good results. (2) The law of exposure. The Bible says, “Do not…be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking.” You’ll always think about what you are exposed to the most. And given the violence, lust, and greed portrayed by the media, it’s not surprising that crime and immorality are on the rise. You can’t just say, “I’m going to read this magazine, watch this program, listen to this music, but it won’t affect me.” Social science now confirms what God said all along – it does affect you! Where you go, what you read, (or don’t read), what you watch, and the dreams you entertain all shape your mind. Paul writes, “Remember what Christ taught and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise” (Colossians 3:16 TLB). So when you need the right mind-fuel, remember: “God whose gracious Word can make you into what He wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need” (Acts 20:32 MSG).

Soul food: Exo 25-27Matt 8:1-9Ps 81Prov 2:11-15

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Looking for a lifetime partner

Looking for a lifetime partner

2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV

An ox and a donkey each have a tail, two eyes, and four legs. But if you harness them together, they won’t get along or work well together. Actually, they will pull in different directions. That’s because God made them with very different natures and attributes! With that picture in your mind, here’s some advice on dating you’d be wise to heed. Looks soon fade, so choose someone who has other, less obvious attributes. For example: (1) Consider their manners and how they treat the waiter at the restaurant. (2) What type of interests do they have ? (3) Do they share your spiritual values and beliefs? (4) Do they show genuine interest in what you have to say? (5) How do they treat people they’re not trying to impress? Once the newness of the initial attraction wears off, there must be something more, or the relationship is doomed. And make sure you’re the chooser, and not the chosen. Think about what you really want, and don’t entrust your heart to someone without first ascertaining their suitability. The only way to do that is to ask questions and develop X-ray vision so you can learn to read their motives through their mannerisms. If you’re going to make an informed decision about sharing your life with this person, and share the most intimate, vulnerable parts of yourself literally and figuratively, you must open your eyes, along with all your senses, and really see the other person. Stop. Look. Listen. Pray. That’s the Bible’s formula for making a wise decision when it comes to choosing a mate for life.

Soul food: Exo 22-24Matt 7:15-29Ps 79Prov 2:9-10

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Use the power of praise

Use the power of praise

Psalm 34:1 NIV

You can praise God too little, but you can never praise Him too much. David writes, “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). “Seven times a day do I praise thee” (Psalm 119:164). “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” When you are overwhelmed by circumstances, the last thing you feel like doing is praising God. But it’s the first thing you should do, because praise gets your attention off yourself and onto God’s miraculous power. Jehoshaphat faced an army he had no hope of defeating. But when he started to praise God, his enemies destroyed each other while he looked on in amazement. When Paul and Silas praised God in prison, their chains broke and the doors opened. It’s normal to focus on the problem and forget to praise God, but praise solves problems. Peter writes: “The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Start to acknowledge the power of praise and choose to exalt God regardless of how you feel. Praise brings you into God’s presence and positions you for His favour and blessing. You say, “But I don’t understand how praise works.” Think about it like this: You don’t have to understand aerodynamics in order to fly. You just get on the plane and the pilot takes you where you need to go. It’s the same when you praise God – just do it and you’ll get results.

Soul food: Exo 16-18Matt 6:19-34Ps 74:1-11Prov 2:6

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Tempted to compromise?

Tempted to compromise?

Jude 24 MSG

Pick friends who respect your values; otherwise, you will end up under pressure to compromise your convictions to maintain their friendship. That’s too high a price to pay! Joseph said no to the sexual advances of his boss’s wife, and there’s a lesson for you in his story. There are people in the workplace who will push every button and probe every weakness you have, in order to bring you down to their level. And if they succeed, they’ll attack you rather than appreciate you. What should you do? Turn to God for help! “[He] will not allow you to be tempted beyond w hat you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV). When someone seeks to compromise your character, God promises to “make a way of escape” so you don’t have to succumb to temptation. Even if your decision results in you being penalized, alienated, or terminated, ask God for courage to do the right thing. His promise to you is: “Them that honour me I will honour” (1 Samuel 2:30). Remember, it’s better to be alone and walk with God than give in to temptation, violate His Word, and compromise your convictions by “going along to get along.” When you stand tall and do the right thing, you bring honor and glory to God. Jude writes, “To him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall…God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength…now, and to the end of all time” (Jude 24-25 MSG).

Soul food: Isa 61Heb 12:2Isa 35:3-10

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Distributors of God’s blessing

Distributors of God’s blessing

Genesis 12:2 NIV

God promised to bless Abraham and make his name “great” for one reason – so he would be a blessing to others. Jesus taught His disciples to be distributors of blessing and first responders to those in need. That’s why He often involved them in the miracle process; He was training them. In feeding the five thousand, the miracle of multiplication took place after the bread and fish left the disciples’ hands. Jesus was the source, they were the distributors (See Matthew 14:13-21). And God is calling you to be a distributor too. Sometimes we don’t recogn ize our blessing because it’s in seed form, so we conclude we don’t have what it takes. Not so. Jesus said: “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29 NIV). Note the words: “The seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Instead of saying, “How could God possibly use me?” become aware and alert to people’s needs. You have something God can use, and when He blesses it, you’ll be amazed at your potential. The miracle of the loaves and fishes began when someone said, “These people need to be fed.” That’s when the disciples discovered Jesus could use what they had, even though it seemed inadequate.

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Great doors/great challenges

Great doors/great challenges

1 Corinthians 16:9 NIV

Nothing becomes truly great until it overcomes something that looks insurmountable. Paul writes, “I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (vv. 8-9 NIV). Great doors of opportunity always come with great challenges, and each challenge calls for greater faith and tenacity. Think about it: If outstanding success came easily, everyone would have it. And if everyone had it, it wouldn’t be outstanding success. How does a caterpillar become a butterfly? By ove rcoming the cocoon. And the cocoon is so essential to the process that the caterpillar actually creates it. Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay in the warmth and comfort of the cocoon? On days when the caterpillar struggles to get out of it, he probably thinks so! But deep down, he knows the price of freedom. Flight and discovery require struggle, development, and breakthrough. There is no other way! Why did Jesus send His disciples into a life-threatening storm? To teach them to trust Him in all of life’s situations. Soon He’d be leaving them, and He was using every experience to prepare them for their future. So what are you struggling to overcome right now? Instead of complaining and asking God to take it away, see it for what it is – preparation. Remember, your level of preparation indicates the level of blessing that awaits you on the other side of it. So if God is opening doors of opportunity for you, be prepared for challenges, because you can’t have one without the other.

Soul food: Zech 12-14John 21:15-25Ps 47Prov 31:6-9

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Challenges for the church of today

Challenges for the church of today

Ephesians 3:10 NLT

Here are three of the challenges the church faces today: (1) We can’t experience a new move of God if we insist on clinging to an old one. “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety.” The word revival doesn’t simply mean awakening something that’s asleep. It also means resurrecting that which is dead or dying, and causing it to come to life again. (2) We fear excess, so we embrace mediocrity and call it balance. People aren’t drawn to us because of our similarities, but because of the things that make us unique. When it comes to our faith and our testimony, we mustn’t downplay, soft-pedal, or sidestep the very things God has given us that make us distinctive. If we do, people will be disappointed and go elsewhere. The disciples didn’t blend in with the crowd; their message and the demonstration of its power made them stand out. (3) We need to make room in the church for risk-takers and faith-walkers. In the first miracle Jesus worked, changing water into wine, Mary told the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5). Our need to be liked and to be popular can lead to a religious spirit that cripples risk-taking and faith-walking. Jesus promised: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8). So when God tells us to “do church” differently, let’s not be afraid to step out and obey Him.

Soul food: Zech 9-11John 21:1-14Ps 12Prov 31:1-5

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How to set your goals 

How to set your goals 

Habakkuk 2:2 NIV

Put your goals in writing. God told the prophet Habakkuk, “Write down the revelation and make it plain…so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time…Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (vv. 2-3 NIV). Note the word “delay,” because it’s not one we particularly like. God can give you a vision overnight, but usually it won’t be fulfilled overnight. You’ll face disappointments, discouragements, and delays. Because your vision always costs more than you estimated, and takes longer than yo u planned, it can become “blurred” by your circumstances and emotions. That’s why it’s so important to write it down and keep it in front of you! Why did God tell Abraham that his children would be as numerous as the stars in heaven? Because stars are something you can physically look at and count. “Where there is no vision, the people perish [languish and waste away]” (Proverbs 29:18). The word “perish” suggests something that’s slowly decaying, and that’s what happens when you don’t keep your God-given vision in front of you. If you’ve dreamed of losing weight, post a picture that inspires you on your refrigerator. If you dream of one day owning your own home, stick a picture of it on your bulletin board. And if your goal is to give a certain amount to God’s work, write a check for that amount and place it where you’ll see it every day. With a clear-cut written goal, you’ll always know where you are and remember what God has called you to do.

Soul food: Zech 5-8John 20:19-31Ps 67Prov 30:29-33

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How to set your goals (2)

How to set your goals (2)

Jeremiah 1:5 NIV

Ask God to tell you who you are. Bookstore shelves are lined with volumes of books telling us that we can be anything we make up our minds to be. And while there’s some truth to that, it’s not the whole truth! A dog may believe it can fly, but if it tries to, it will go “splat.” A fish may believe it can bark, but it’s not going to happen. Bottom line: Dogs and fish may pray, believe, claim, confess, and try all they want, but they won’t succeed. Why? Because God will only empower you to be what He called and equipped you to be. He told Jeremiah: “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth'” (vv. 5-9 NIV). When God equips you with one talent He doesn’t give you a five-talent assignment, and vice versa (See Matthew 25:14-15). And here’s the great thing: The one-talent person and the five-talent person will one day stand before Him and hear the commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV).

Soul food: Micah 5-7John 19:31-42Ps 105:23-36Prov 30:15-19

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Acts 16:7 NKJV

We’ve all been given individual gifts and goals in life, and God is the giver of both. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 NKJV). When you have a desire that’s “born of the flesh,” don’t expect God to fulfill it. It’s okay to admire and learn from gifted, successful people, as long as you don’t try to duplicate them. It’s okay to emulate their good character qualities and seek their input as long as you go to God, the architect of each of our lives, and ask Him to show you His blu eprint for your life. Even though David’s desire was to build the temple, God told him his son, Solomon, would ultimately build it. David’s job was to raise the money and materials for the project. If you’re a “make-it-happen” sort of person, that kind of thinking will go against your grain. So read this and think about it: “They were forbidden by the…Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia…pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:6-10 NKJV). So let God set your goals and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Soul food: Micah 1-4John 19:17-30Ps 105:16-22Prov 30:10-14

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