1 Peter 4:10 TLB

The problem with envy

1 Peter 4:10 TLB

One counsellor notes: “When we climb on board the seesaw of envy, we sink straight down while the focus of our discontent rises far above us. In this out-of-balance comparison we always find ourselves wanting. Envy leads to self-pity and ingratitude… we’re so preoccupied with our dissatisfaction that it’s impossible to enjoy what we have and what we’re doing. Envy leads to bitterness, resentment and hostility. It’s not surprising the word envy comes from the Latin word invidere, which means to look at with malice …You are a unique creation with your own special capabilities, timetable, and destiny… it makes no sense to compare yourself. An honest, grateful look at your God-given assets will help you become satisfied with what you have and who you are.” Don’t let envy steal another second of your happiness. When it motivates you to compare yourself with others, you always come up short. It makes you cynical. Nothing you do is satisfying. Envy makes you suspicious of other people’s motives, even when they genuinely care about you. You have trouble accepting that their friendship is real so you distance yourself from them, and you end up with very few friends. What’s the answer? Acceptance and gratitude is the antidote to the poison of envy. It’s about accepting that God’s in control, and learning to be thankful for the “many kinds of blessings” that surround you. Remember, “God has given…you…special abilities…use them to help each other.”

Soul food: Acts 8-9; Luk 24:25-35; Ps 103:1-12; Prov 10:27-29

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John 8:11 NAS

Jesus doesn’t condemn, He cleanses

John 8:11 NAS

The Bible says: “The Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery…they said to [Jesus]…’in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.'” Jesus replied: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’…When they heard it, they began to go out one by one…Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more'” (vv. 3-11 NAS). Notice two things: (1) Those least qualified to condemn you, will. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. They made a practice of lifting themselves up by putting others down. Their aim that day was to trap Him by exposing her. Steer clear of modern-day Pharisees! Find your friends among those who’ve been redeemed by grace, and know how to extend it to others. (2) The One most qualified to condemn you, won’t. Stay close to Him. When you do, you’ll discover your scars aren’t permanent and you’ll recover much more quickly. Christ will meet you in your dark places and heal the wounds of your past because His grace is greater than your shame. Where sin abounds-His grace super-abounds! There’s no limit to the depth of shame He can see us through, because there’s no limit to the grace He can supply. Today, if you’re feeling the weight of your shameful past and sinful ways, come to Jesus. He’s ready to forgive you and set you free. But His invitation to freedom reads “R.S.V.P.”

Soul food: Acts 1:1-3:10; Luk 23:13-25; Ps 127; Prov 10:19-21

 

Proverbs 3:13 NKJV

Be willing to learn from others

Proverbs 3:13 NKJV

Certain people can make us feel “less than” when we’re in their company, but truly wise and mature people never try to do that. If you’ve had a bad experience with this, don’t allow it to drive you back in defeat. If you don’t stand near a ruler, you won’t be able to measure your growth or monitor how much you’ve developed. Whatever successful people know, they haven’t always known it-they had to learn and grow too. So don’t pretend you know what you don’t know. It’s best to speak genuinely and sincerely, asking questions when appropriate. Most successful people enjoy a chance to discuss and share what they know, so take advantage of this. Fear of rejection keeps us from going forward in life and in relationships. You’d be surprised how many people limit themselves to socializing only with those who are comparable to them. They feel uncomfortable the moment they’re surrounded by people who are different from them. An important part of your development occurs when you decide to cross the tracks and relate to people who are ahead of you in some way. These relationships create a chance for you to grow. It’s not wrong to lack knowledge; it’s wrong to be unwilling to learn. Joshua learned the principles of good leadership from Moses. Ruth learned how to find the right relationship by listening to Naomi. Make this Scripture a guiding principle of your life: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.”

Soul food: Exo 12:1-14; Mark 14:12-26; Ps 69:7-21

 

Psalm 51:5 GWT

Were you really “born that way”?

Psalm 51:5 GWT

Whether your struggle is with alcohol, drugs, sex, anger, gossip, unforgiveness, stealing, lying, or gambling, one thing’s certain-we are all born with a propensity toward certain behaviors. So it’s not a genetics issue, it’s a spiritual issue. It’s not about science, it’s about sin. Any of us might find ourselves struggling with these issues-not because we inherited a gene for it, but because we inherited Adam’s fallen nature the day we were conceived. David said, “I was born guilty. I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.” Solomon said there are no exceptions: “Not a single person on earth i s always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT). So the answer is yes, we were all “born that way.” The reason these behaviors come naturally to us is not because we “can’t help being the way we are”; it’s because our sin nature is stronger than our desire to please God. Even when we try, at times we lose the fight! Paul, the greatest of Christians, admitted to failing when he tried to do right. “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18NIV 2011 Edition). So if we are all born that way, what’s the good news? Paul gives it to us: “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25 NLT). When you were born you received Adam’s corrupt nature, but through the new birth you receive Christ’s sin-conquering, life-changing, righteous nature!

Soul food: Jer 51-52; Luk 22:63-71; Ps 56; Prov 10:14-16

 

Isaiah 43:18 NAS

Overcoming bad memories

Isaiah 43:18 NAS

To overcome bad memories you must: (1) Reframe them. Looking back, Joseph said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20 NAS). (2) Reject them. The next time a bad memory resurfaces, refuse to entertain it. “Do not…ponder the things of the past.” (3) Refocus your thoughts. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13 NKJV). You say, “I can’t help remembering.” If you can recall your troubles, you can recall your blessings. The most effective way to overcome bad memories-is to replace them with good ones! And here’s some great news: Every promise God gives you contains the power to fulfil it. So meditate on these words and personalize them: “Fear not…do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth” (Isaiah 54:4 NAS). “The former things shall not be remembered or come into mind…be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create” (Isaiah 65:17-18 AMP). Notice the word create. God can create beauty out of ashes and order out of chaos-but it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll do a lot of growing and forgiving along the way. In some cases you’ll forgive others; in other cases you’ll forgive yourself. You say, “But all those promises are from the Old Testament!” Yes, but the Bible says, “He carries out and fulfils all of [His] promises, no matter how many…there are” (2 Corinthians 1:20 TLB). So bring your bad memories to God and let Him heal them.

Soul food: Jer 41-44; Luk 22:24-38; Ps 25:16-22; Prov 10:4-7

 

Exodus 16:7 NIV

Don’t let complaining creep in (2)

Exodus 16:7 NIV

When you complain, God takes it personally. It shows a lack of faith in His Word that says, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love [him]” (Romans 8:28 NLT). The Bible says: “When Pharaoh…let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a roundabout way” (Exodus 13:17-18 NLT). God sees the end from the beginning, and He’s leading you in a roundabout way! Once you accept that, you can stop complaining. When Israel grumbled, “the Lord’s anger blazed…and…he destroyed some of the people” (Numbers 11:1 NLT). Dr. Dale A. Robbins writes: “They refused to trust Him to provide, protect, and direct their lives…The whole premise of Christianity is Jesus becomes the ‘boss’ of our circumstances. We’re in His hands. If believers complain, it becomes an accusation against the Lord to whom we’ve trusted our lives, and He ‘[hears] all your complaints against him’ (Exodus 16:8 NLT).” When you go through tough times, don’t resort to complaining. Praise God in spite of what’s happening. “Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18NLT). Thanksgiving is the opposite of complaining. It expresses appreciation for everything God has done and what He promises to do, and shows confidence that He’s in charge. The Psalmist said, “Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and…in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:14-15 AMP). Gratitude-not grumbling-motivates God to work on your behalf.

Soul food: Jer 36:27-40:16; Luk 22:14-23; Ps 25:8-15; Prov 10:1-3

 

Jude V. 16 NLT

Don’t let complaining creep in (1)

Jude V. 16 NLT

Jon Gordon says: “My wife’s friend Rachel wouldn’t stop complaining about her job … the company, the economy, her lack of sales…I finally stopped her and said, ‘It’s simple. You have a choice. You can accept your company’s new policies, come to work with a positive attitude and be your best every day, or you can find a new job. But whatever you do, stop complaining because it’s not doing any good. Change your job or change your attitude…The conversation was over, and so was our friendship, I thought. Rachel wouldn’t speak to me for a few months. Then I saw her at a party and she told me she decided to take my advice. She stayed in her job, stopped complaining and started selling more. Three months after changing her attitude her sales were up 30 percent, a year later they were up 70 percent…The other day, three years after our initial conversation, I caught up with Rachel again and asked her how she was doing. She told me during the last two years her sales continued to grow. She’s been promoted twice and is now in her dream job. It’s the job she always wanted and she’s more excited and passionate than ever. Is complaining sabotaging you and/or your team?…I was in a similar situation ten years ago. But I learned when you stop whining and take positive action, you start winning.” The Bible places whiners and complainers in the same class as “sinners [who] have spoken against [God]…grumblers and complainers…living only to satisfy their desires…to get what they want” (vv. 15-16 NLT). Instead, you should be full of faith-thanking God for His blessings and trusting Him for the future.

Soul food: Jer 33:1-36:26; Luk 22:1-13; Ps 25:1-7; Prov 9:17-18

 

Mark 14:8 NKJV

Use what God has given you

Mark 14:8 NKJV

Jesus paid one of His greatest compliments to a woman of the streets who poured costly ointment from an alabaster box onto His head: “She has done what she could.” God requires no more of us, and is worthy of no less. One night in 1837, a woman called Florence heard the voice of God telling her she’d a special mission in life. Nine years later that mission began to take shape when a friend sent her information about an institution in Germany that trained deaconesses, so she went there and learned to care for the sick. In 1853 she became superintendent of a women’s hospital in London. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854 she volunteered to take care of British soldiers, and went to Constantinople. Once in Turkey, she was put in charge of nursing at a military hospital. It was a male-dominated society and the doctors were hostile toward her. The hospital was deplorably filthy, so she dug in her heels and began caring for her patients, at first using the provisions she brought with her and then undertaking a correspondence campaign to resupply the hospital. She spent hours each day in the wards, touching virtually every wounded soldier who entered it. The comfort she gave them on her night rounds earned her the nickname “the lady with the lamp.” Who was she? Florence Nightingale. One of her most famous sayings was, “I never made an excuse, or accepted an excuse.” So instead of focusing on the talents and resources you don’t have, use what God has given you.

Soul food: Jer 31-32; Luk 21:25-38; Ps 32; Prov 9:10-16

 

2 Samuel 12:7 NKJV

Confront them!

2 Samuel 12:7 NKJV

Can you imagine the courage and integrity it took for Nathan the prophet to challenge King David about his affair with Bathsheba? Most of us tend to avoid confrontation because we fear being disliked and rejected. But when you avoid confrontation it often makes things worse. By hiding his sin, David was robbing himself of the blessing of the Lord. Looking back, he wrote, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my…prayer” (Psalm 66:18- 19 NIV 1984 Edition). The tiny growth you don’t want to deal with now can end up becoming a cancer that consumes you in the future. That’s too high a price to pay. If you love someone, you’ll take your courage in your hand and confront them in love. Confrontation is an opportunity to help develop that person-provided you do it respectfully and with their best interest at heart. Here are ten guidelines to help you confront someone in a positive way: (1) Do it ASAP. (2) Address the wrong action, not the person. (3) Address only what the person can change. (4) Give them the benefit of the doubt. (5) Be specific. (6) Avoid sarcasm. (7) Avoid saying “you always” and “you never” because they are not true. (8) When it’s appropriate, tell them how you feel about what was done wrong. (9) Give them a plan to fix the problem. (10) Affirm him or her as a person and as a friend. The Bible says, “The Lord corrects those he loves” (Proverbs 3:12 NCV). So if you love someone, you’ll confront them in the right way.

Soul food: Jer 25-27; Luk 21:1-11; Ps 72:1-11; Prov 9:1-6

 

Colossians 1:27 MSG

Christ is in you (2)

Colossians 1:27 MSG

Paul writes, “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV). No other religion makes such a claim. No other movement implies the living presence of its founder in his followers. No wonder Paul refers to it as “the mystery.” We comprehend the idea of Christ for me, or with me, or ahead of me. But Paul said it’s better than that-Christ in me! In his writings Paul refers to this union with Christ 216 times. John mentions it 26 times. They describe a Christ who not only woos us to Himself, but actually “ones” us with Himself. John writes, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15 NKJV). Just as you own the home you live in, so the Christ who lives in you owns you. And when you own a home you rearrange it the way you want it. Likewise, Jesus moves in and commandeers your hands and feet, requisitions your mind and your tongue. Do you sense things being rearranged in your life today? That’s “Christ in you”! Eugene Peterson paraphrases Paul’s words this way: “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son” (Romans 8:29 MSG). Ever hear the old saying, “Making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear”? That’s what Jesus does when He takes up residence in your heart. He has a plan for your life, and He also provides the power to fulfil it. And what’s your part? To surrender and cooperate fully with Him.

Soul food: Jer 22-24; Luk 20:41-47; Ps 31; Prov 8:34-36