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

Are you a “me first” person?

Philippians 2:3 NIV

If you’re a “me first” person, here are some verses of Scripture that is designed to keep you on your toes, and your knees! “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but…to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5 NIV). That’s how Jesus treated people, and you have been called to do likewise. Is doing this easy or convenient? No, it runs contrary to everything in our self-centered natures. And because you were gracious yesterday, is no guarantee you’ll treat people the same way today. Grace is like a garment; you have to put it on each morning and wear it all day. “How can I live like that?” you ask. By drawing daily on God’s grace, and deciding to put others first. By looking for ways to support and encourage them. Everybody you meet is fighting a battle of some kind, and you may be the one person that crosses their path who is able to speak a word of encouragement to them (See Proverbs 16:24 NLT). Don’t let them down. Humility is an attitude that determines ahead of time: “I care about the people around me. I don’t always have to be first. I’m going to help somebody else win for a change.” Humility prays, “Lord, teach me to curb my competitive nature and turn that energy into loving and lifting others. Show me how You did it, and help me to do it too.”

Soul food: Est 4:9-5:3; Heb 4:7-16


2 Corinthians 6:8 NLT

We all probably know that Jesus calls us to serve others. But it’s not always easy. We can be faced with situations where we don’t want to serve. Sometimes we’d rather focus on our own needs and our own progress. Other times, we are faced with people who we don’t get on with, who don’t recognise or appreciate what we are doing for them, and will never serve us back. But serving Jesus’ way means saying, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20 NIV). If we are struggling with serving, we need to check our attitude. Are we putting ourselves or others first? Are we remembering that we are not really serving people, but serving God? In Matthew 25, we are told: ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (v.40 NIV). Thinking like this will help us serve willingly and joyfully, even if we are not getting anything in return. It can be easy to fall into the trap of serving in order to be recognised and appreciated by others, but God sees everything we do. Even when others don’t appreciate our efforts, God does. In Hebrews 6 it says: ‘God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them’ (NIV). Serving others requires us to have humility, to put ourselves and our egos below the needs of those we are serving. We can think that our God-given gifts are for advancing ourselves, for being successful and gaining recognition. But the Bible says: ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others’ (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). Our gifts are actually to advance God’s kingdom, and to serve others.

Num 29:1-6; Matt 24; Rev 11:15-19; 1 Cor 15:50-58

A formula for successful living

1 Peter 5:5-7 NLT

Somebody quipped, “The trouble with success is that the formula is the same as the one for a nervous breakdown.” The Bible gives us the real formula for successful living. It encompasses three areas: authority, attitude, and assurance. “Accept the authority of the elders…humble yourselves under the mighty power of God…Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Let’s look at each of the three areas: (1) Submit yourself to those who are wise. Listen to their counsel, become accountable, accept reproof, take suggestions, respect experience, and follow a worthy example. Only when you can take advice will you be qualified to give it. Only when you respect and submit to leadership will you be qualified to lead others. (2) Humble yourself. In Scripture the “hand” of God symbolizes two things: His discipline and His deliverance. When you humble yourself before Him, you’re accepting His discipline as being for your good. You’re also acknowledging His willingness to answer your cry for help and deliver you by whatever means He chooses. (3) Throw yourself on God’s mercy and care. Trouble and disappointment will surely come, and when they do you need to throw yourself on the Lord. The situation may be too big for you, but it’s never too big for Him. Does that mean there’s no place for planning, goal-setting, and hard work? No, it just means you’re willing to do things God’s way, which is always best.

Soul food: 1 Sam 27-31; Matt 28:11-20; Ps 63; Prov 22:17-23

Successful living

1 Peter 5:5-7 NLT

The world tries to give us lots of strategies to be successful. But the Bible gives us the real formula for successful living. It encompasses three areas: authority, attitude, and assurance. ‘Accept the authority of the elders…humble yourselves under the mighty power of God…Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.’ So let’s take a look at each of the three areas: 1) Pay attention to those who are wise and have more experience than you. We need to find people who we can be accountable to, listen to their advice, accept constructive criticism and discipline, take suggestions, respect their experience, and follow their example. We need to understand that we are not called to do everything ourselves, and that we need other people to help us on our journey. Being told we are not quite getting it right isn’t fun or comfortable. But it’s really helpful for us to grow and mature in our faith. 2) Be humble. In Scripture the ‘hand’ of God symbolises two things: His discipline and His rescue. When we humble ourselves before Him, we are accepting His discipline, knowing that it’s ultimately for our good. We are also acknowledging His willingness to answer our cry for help and step in whichever way He chooses. 3) Depend on God’s mercy and care. We are certain to experience trouble and disappointment, and when we do, we need to throw ourselves on God. The situation may be too big for us, but it’s never too big for Him. It doesn’t mean we never have to put any effort in, or plan for things, or set goals. But it does mean that we are willing to do things God’s way, and His way is always best.

1 Sam 27-31; Matt 28:11-20; Ps 63; Prov 22:17-23