The lion and the lamb

2020-07-20
Ephesians 4:2 NKJV

One day a lion met a tiger in the jungle. He grabbed the tiger’s tail and demanded, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The tiger answered meekly, “You are, O mighty lion.” Next the lion grabbed a monkey, asking, “Who do you say is the king of the jungle?” The monkey humbly replied, “You, O mighty lion.” Then the lion met an elephant and asked, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The elephant grabbed him with his trunk, whirled him around and threw him up against a tree, leaving him bleeding and broken. The lion got up slowly, and licking his wounds, said to the elephant, “Just because you don’t know the answer is no reason for you to get so rough.” The lesson in this story is: The greater your authority, the more gracious your attitude toward others should be. In Scripture Jesus is referred to as a lion and a lamb; He’s the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the Lamb of God. And in this He shows us the essence of true strength and leadership. When it comes to standing for the truth, you should roar like a lion, and when it comes to dealing with people, you should be as gentle as a lamb. Paul spells it out clearly in this Scripture: “With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” Again he writes, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13 NKJV).

Soul food: Acts 8-9; Luke 8:26-39; Ps 146; Prov 16:4-5

Looking for donkeys – and discovering your destiny (2)

2020-06-02
1 Samuel 10:27 NKJV

When God calls you to a special destiny, not everyone will be happy about it. “Some…said, ‘How can this man [Saul] save us?’ So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.” Note Saul’s reaction to his critics: “He held his peace.” Bottom line: It’s not your responsibility to convince others of your calling; it’s their responsibility to discern it. The Bible says, “A man’s gift makes room for him” (Proverbs 18:16 NAS). It’s your gifts – and the results they produce – that validate your calling. “Samuel said to Saul…’stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God'” (1 Samuel 9:27 NKJV). When you know you’ve heard from God, the criticism of others will affect you less. His presence reassures you, His words direct your steps, and His peace settles the storm within you. After you hear the voice of God, the flattering words of others can’t puff you up, because both your feet are on the ground and your instructions are clear. You will not require the praise of others, for His confidence in you satisfies completely. After you hear the voice of God, your attitude changes instantly; you won’t face the future with anger, torment, or fear. God has spoken, His words have settled every issue, and time will prove Him correct. And here’s an important Scripture to keep in mind: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). Instead of comparing yourself with others and putting yourself down, celebrate each small step of faith you take on the way to your God-given destiny.

Soul food: 1 Kings 14-15; Mark 13:24-37; Ps 121; Prov 12:23-24

Words

2020-05-31
Colossians 4:6 NIV

We all know that the words we say have an impact on those around us. If we’re speaking negative words, we can create a negative atmosphere around us. But if we’re speaking truth and positivity, we can encourage others. The Bible tells us to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). How we speak to others will determine what sort of relationship we’ll have with them. If people are always rude to us, or lie to us, we’re not likely to stay around long. And it’s the same the other way round. We need to let our conversations with others be ‘always full of grace, seasoned with salt.’ The words we speak come out of how we feel. If we’re struggling with our attitude then we’re probably not going to speak words of life to others. Jesus said: ‘A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of’ (Luke 6:45 NIV). This doesn’t just apply to our words to others. How we speak to, and about, ourselves is really important too. We need to be speaking God’s truth over ourselves. We need to encourage ourselves and show grace to ourselves when we make mistakes. The psalmist wrote: ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14 NIV). Are our words pleasing to God? If not, let’s ask Him to help us speak words of encouragement, grace, and truth to those around us, and to ourselves.

John 7:37-41; Exo 17:1-7; Isa 35:1-7

Money (2)

2020-05-19
2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV

How many times do you find yourself asking for more than you already have? We might want more friends, higher pay at work, more blessings from God. In the world of technology, we want the new thing that’s been released, even if what we already have still works. God wants us to go to Him with our requests, but we need to examine the attitude of our hearts. We need to think about our motive for asking for more. Are we asking out of greed or out of generosity? Do we just want to keep up with everyone else? The Bible says: ‘You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God’ (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV). God’s blessings are to encourage us to be generous. God loves blessing us just because He loves us. But we’re called to be generous with others. We should share our resources and help those who have less than us. The Bible also encourages us to be content with what we have already. Paul wrote: ‘I have learned how to be content with whatever I have’ (Philippians 4:11 NLT). Are we content when we don’t have everything we think we need? Or do we panic and pray desperately for more? Paul also said: ‘If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:8-9 NIV). We need to make sure that we’re not allowing greed and selfishness to take the place of generosity and kindness in our lives.

Titus 1-3; Mark 10:1-12; Ps 88:1-9a; Prov 11:24-26

Keep positive

2020-04-28
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

The things we focus on will help shape our attitude. If we look at the positives, we’ll be more likely to have a positive and thankful attitude. If we’re aware of the positives but choose to remember all the negative things, then we’re more likely to have a negative attitude. Some of us can end up missing the good things in life because we’re focusing on what’s wrong. It’s true that there will always be negative things in our lives. Maybe it’s a bad relationship, rejection, frustration at work, or a health issue. These things can make it really hard to be positive. They can feel overwhelming and end up being all we can see. But the Bible tells us to ‘rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.’ How can we do this when we’re facing difficult things? We need to keep focused on the good things in our lives. These are the things God has blessed us with. He gives us good gifts: ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 NIV). We can also keep our eyes focused on God Himself. He never changes, He never leaves us, He never stops loving us. These are incredible things that we can always be thankful for, no matter how bad our circumstances are. This doesn’t mean we have to pretend to be happy when we’re hurting. God wants us to be real, and He wants to comfort us when we’re struggling. The Bible tells us that there is ‘a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance’ (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV). But whatever season we find ourselves in, we can always be joyful and grateful because of everything God has done for us.

Jam 1-2; Mark 5:1-10; Ps 94:1-11; Prov 10:24-26