Judges 5:6 NIV
When Shamgar picked up his ox goad and slew six hundred Philistines, he made a decision that if he was going to go down, he was going to go down fighting (See Judges 3:31). And that’s the key to deliverance, whether it’s from the Philistines, or pride, or prejudice, or pornography, or any other stubborn problem in your life. You’ve got to go on the offensive. There comes a point when you say, “Enough is enough.” You know you cannot continue down the path you are on because it’s a dead end relationally, physically, or spiritually. It may not kill you, but it will eat you alive. You know you cannot keep doing what you’ve always done. Not if you want to get into shape, or get out of debt. Not if you want to recapture the romance, or reach the goal. Not if you want to leave a legacy worth living up to. And the good news is this: You are only one decision away from a totally different life. But you’ve got to grab your ox goad and go for it. Cut up that credit card. Apply for the graduate program. Take the mission trip. Set up the counselling appointment. William A. Lawrence wrote, “On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to wait, and waiting – died!” Stop being a procrastinator. Stop being a perfectionist. Spiritual growth is about progress, not perfection. When it comes to going after your goals, your greatest adversary is inertia. We have a tendency to keep doing what we’ve always done, hoping that somehow things will change. They won’t, so be a Shamgar and take action!
Soul food: Isa 42-44; John 7:1-13; Ps 86; Prov 28:21-24
Isaiah 54:2 NKJV
The desire to change is the key to growth in any area of life. Most of us desire improvement, yet at the same time we resist change. But you can’t have one without the other! Change is possible only if you want it badly enough. As Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, observed: “You are the way you are, because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you’d be in the process of changing right now.” Change is never easy. It takes lots of time, tremendous amounts of energy, perseverance, and – of course – desire. But the desire to change must translate into a decision to change. And you must make that decision day after day. It’s said that Earl Weaver, manager of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, was unhappy with a decision by the umpire so he charged out of the dugout and yelled at him, “Are you gonna get any better, or is this it?” If you want to change, you must ask yourself a similar question. Are you going to keep working and trying to get better, or is this as good as it gets? The Bible puts it like this: “Enlarge the place of your tent; and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.” Pay close attention to the words enlarge, stretch, lengthen, and strengthen. What do they have in common? They all require commitment and persistence. That’s what it takes to change your life. And the good news is that with God’s help, you can do it – starting today.
Soul food: Ezra 1-2; Mat 27:57-66; Ps 78:1-8; Prov 19:21-23
Isaiah 48:15 NIV
God told Jeremiah, “Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jer 1:5 NCV). When God decides to use you, five things happen: First, there is a call. God asks common people to do uncommon things, like Peter getting out of a boat and walking on water. Second, there is fear. When God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh, he said, “I’m not a good enough speaker; use somebody else.” Third, there is reassurance. The thought of filling Moses’ shoes must have shaken Joshua to the core, so God told him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (Joshua 1:5 NKJV). Fourth, there is a decision. Sometimes we say yes to God and sometimes we say no. When we say yes we live with joy; when we say no we forfeit that joy. But there’s always a decision. Fifth, there is a changed life. Those who say yes to God’s call don’t walk perfectly, not by a long shot. But because they say yes, they learn and grow even from their failures. Indeed, their failures often become part of their ability to minister to others. And those who say no to God are changed too; they become a little harder, a little more resistant to His calling, and a little more likely to say no next time. Is God calling you? Maybe it has to do with your work, or your relationships, or your money, or facing your biggest fear. God’s call will go to the core of who you are and what you do. Saying yes to Him is the best decision you’ll ever make.
Soul food: Zeph 1-3; Mat 27:45-56; Ps 46; Prov 19:18-20
Isaiah 48:15 NIV
God told Jeremiah, ‘Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NCV). When God decides to use us, five things happen: first, there’s a call. God asks ordinary people to do extraordinary things, like Peter getting out of a boat and walking on water. Second, there’s fear. When God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh, he said, ‘Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words…please! Send somebody else!’ (Exodus 4:10;13 MSG). Third, there’s reassurance. The thought of having to fill Moses’ shoes must have terrified Joshua, so God told him, ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV). Fourth, there’s a decision. Sometimes we say yes to God and sometimes we say no. When we say yes we live with joy; when we say no that joy can pass us by. But there’s always a choice. Fifth, there’s a changed life. When we say yes to God’s call we don’t suddenly do everything perfectly. But because we said yes, we learn and grow even from our failures. Our failures often become part of our ability to reach out to others. And when we say no to God we’re changed too; but not in the best way. We become a little more resistant to His calling, and a little more likely to say no next time. So is God calling us today? Maybe it’s to do with our future career, or our current job, or our relationships, or our money, or facing our biggest fears. God’s call will go to the core of who we are and what we do. Saying yes to Him is the best decision we’ll ever make.
Zeph 1-3; Mat 27:45-56; Ps 46; Prov 19:18-20
Psalm 90:1 NLT
At the end of a hard day it feels good to come home to a place you know – a place where you can kick off our shoes and not worry about what anybody thinks. God’s presence can become equally comfortable to us too. With time, we can learn to go there for strength, for protection, and for guidance. God wants us to be at home in His presence and aware of His nearness at all times. We can think of God as a discussion point instead of a place to dwell, but God wants us to see Him as the One in whom ‘we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28 NIV). When God led the children of Israel through the wilderness, He didn’t just show up once a day and then disappear. No, the pillar of fire was present with them all night and the cloud of smoke was present with them all day. God never leaves us. Jesus promised, ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20 NIV). The psalmist said, ‘The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life’ (Psalm 27:4 NLT). It can be challenging to be focused on living in the house of the Lord when we’ve got so many other things trying to steal our attention. But we are always just one decision away from our Father’s presence. He’s always welcoming us to spend time in His presence, we just need to choose that above everything else.
2 Sam 17:14-19:43; Mat 26:26-35; Ps 133; Prov 18:17-20