Ezra 10:4 ESV
When we’ve made a mistake in our lives, we can be quick to blame others. But often we’ve had a choice. And we need to take responsibility for that. So when we get to a place of realising that we’ve made mistakes, there’s three things we need to do. First, we need to refuse. Refuse to stay in that place, wallowing in self-pity and complaining that others have led us to where we are. Then we need to take responsibility. We can’t live our lives blaming others for our mistakes. We have to learn to admit where we’re going wrong. Finally, we need to rise up from the place we’ve found ourselves in. Excuses, blame, guilt and shame keep us down and trapped. We need to rise, accept God’s forgiveness and move on. When Ezra heard about the sins of the Israelites, he fell to his knees and said: ‘My dear God, I’m so totally ashamed, I can’t bear to face you’ (Ezra 9:6 MSG). He then wept, prayed and confessed the sins to God. But the people made a plan, they decided to make a covenant with God to promise that they would sort out the mess they had got in to. They told Ezra: ‘Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it’ (Ezra 10:4 ESV). If Ezra had stayed in that place of shame, he couldn’t have brought justice and morality back to the people. And we can’t do what God’s calling us to do unless we refuse to get up from the place we’re in. So let’s rise up and move into what God’s calling us to do today.
Deut 25-27; Mark 8:1-13; Ps 44:9-16; Prov 12:10-11
Genesis 3:12 NIV
When God asked Adam if he’d eaten from the tree that God had told them not to eat from, Adam told God that it was Eve who made him do it. Eve told God that the devil had made her do it. Both were blaming others. It’s true that without Eve suggesting Adam tried the fruit, he might never have thought to. And without the devil tempting Eve, she may never have eaten it either. But, ultimately, they both had a choice. They weren’t forced to eat the fruit, they could have chosen not to. Instead of taking responsibility for their choices, they decided to blame others. We can end up doing that too. But God wants us to take responsibility for our own lives, decisions and mistakes. And until we do, He can’t bless us like He desires. So we have to make the choice to accept where we’ve gone wrong, take responsibility and then move on. We can’t keep living in our past, focusing on our past mistakes and issues. We have to focus on where we’re going and what we’d like to see happen, rather than having our eyes fixed on the rearview mirror, looking back at what was done and who did it. Looking ahead takes the power away from dwelling on the past, where we don’t have the ability to undo what was done no matter who is to blame. It distracts us from blaming others and focuses us on where we’re going and what’s to come. So let’s keep our eyes fixed straight ahead and remember what God says: ‘Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do’ (Isaiah 43:18-19 NCV).
Deut 22-24; Mark 7:24-37; Ps 44:1-8; Prov 12:7-9
Proverbs 12:15 NLT
You could probably spend a day at your favourite theme park without getting soaked by some passing flume ride. But ever noticed that they have a designated splash zone for people who want to? Positioning yourself to receive makes all the difference. For example, as you read this, if you position yourself to receive by saying to the Lord, ‘I’ll take action on what You show me,’ you’ll benefit much more than if you read just to get motivated or inspired. To resist or to receive – a choice we have to make every day. Nothing dies quicker than a new idea in a closed mind. One of the reasons Jesus reacted so strongly to the Pharisees was because they refused to receive what He had to say. A wrongly positioned mind is like a microscope that magnifies tiny, pointless things but can’t receive great things. Every situation, if you view it in the right way, is an opportunity. But opportunities can only drop into your lap if you put yourself where opportunities drop. Get in the splash zone. Or, even better, find the water cannon and stand in the way. Too often our minds are locked on one track. We’re looking for red so we overlook blue; we’re thinking ‘tomorrow’ and God is saying ‘now.’ We’re looking everywhere, and the answer is right under our nose. When a person is positioned correctly, they’re ready to receive all God has for them. The Bible often uses the word ‘simple’. The original term means ‘thick, dull, and sluggish’. It means those who are insensitive and unreceptive to the thoughts of others. God will speak, but unless we listen, we won’t hear what He has to say.
Jer 36:27-40:16; Mark 1:40-45; Ps 25:1-7; Prov 9:17-18
Proverbs 12:15 NLT
Positioning yourself to receive – makes all the difference! For example, as you read this, if you position yourself to receive by saying to the Lord, “I will take action on what You show me,” you’ll benefit more than if you read it just to be motivated or inspired. To resist or to receive – that’s a choice you make every day. Nothing dies quicker than a new idea in a closed mind. It’s impossible to learn, if you think you already know it all. One of the reasons Jesus reacted so strongly to the Pharisees was because they refused to receive what He had to say. A wrongly positioned mind is like a microscope that magnifies trifling things but can’t receive great ones. Every situation, properly viewed, is an opportunity. But opportunities can only “drop into your lap” if you position your lap where opportunities drop. When you don’t position yourself to receive, it’s like asking for a bushel while you’re holding a cup. Too often our minds are locked on one track. We’re looking for red so we overlook blue; we’re thinking “tomorrow” and God is saying “now.” We’re looking everywhere, and the answer is right under our nose. When a person is positioned correctly, he or she is ready to receive all God has for them. The Bible often uses the word simple. The original term means “thick, dull, and sluggish,” and it describes those who are insensitive and unreceptive to the thoughts of others. God will speak to you through people, but unless you listen you won’t hear what He has to say. So today position yourself to receive.
Soul food: Jer 36:27-40:16; Mark 1:40-45; Ps 25:1-7; Prov 9:17-18
Proverbs 25:22 NKJV
It’s not enough for us to just leave our enemies alone; we need to actively show God’s love toward them. The Bible tells us, ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you’ (vv. 21-22 NKJV). What does it mean to ‘heap coals of fire on his head’? Charles Swindoll explains that in ancient days, people heated their homes and cooked their meals on a small portable stove, a bit like a barbecue grill. A person would often run low on hot coals and they’d need to replenish their supply. The container was usually carried on the head, so as the person passed beneath the first-storey windows of neighbouring houses, thoughtful neighbours who had extra coals in their possession would reach out of the window and place them in the container on top of their head. Thanks to the thoughtful generosity of a few folks, they would arrive at the site with a pile of burning coals on their head, and a ready-made fire for cooking and keeping warm. So ‘heaping burning coals on someone’s head’ became a popular expression for a spontaneous and courteous act that one person would voluntarily do for another. Luke 6:27-28 says, ‘love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you’ (NCV). So we have a choice. We can experience the short-term satisfaction of retaliating, or we can do what God asks of us and show grace, generosity and kindness to everyone, even those we dislike.
Exo 1-3; Mark 16:1-8; Ps 63; Prov 25:26-28