Philippians 4:8 NLT
Our minds are powerful things. What we think about can change our attitude, behaviour, relationships, and faith. It can influence every aspect of our lives. That’s why Paul encouraged those in the church in Philippi to ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (vv.8-9 NLT). When we take control of our minds, and fill them with positive and helpful thoughts, we’ll be more prepared to avoid temptation and sin. Peter warns us to ‘prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control’ (1 Peter 1:13 NLT). When our minds are filled with God’s truth, we’ll be able to recognise the lies of the enemy. When our minds are filled with loving thoughts, we’ll respond to others with love and grace. When our minds are focused on the things that are right, there’ll be less space to dwell on the negative and sinful things. Peter also said: ‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). When we’re not in control of what’s going on in our mind, we’re more vulnerable to the enemy tempting us, and we’re less fixed on God’s truth. David prayed: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14 NLT). He was asking God to help Him ensure that his words and thoughts were good. And we can ask God to do the same for us.
Num 11-13; Mark 2:18-28; Ps 2; Prov 10:30-32
Romans 12:6 AMPC
God has given you certain relationships, skills, experiences, and attributes that He wants you to use to fulfill His purposes. He used a beauty pageant to position Esther as Queen of Persia and stop the genocide of the Jews. He used Nehemiah’s diligence as the king’s cupbearer to position him for royal favor that would parlay into rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He used David’s musical ability to give him access to the king of Israel. He used Joseph’s imprisonment and his ability to interpret dreams to save two nations from famine. He used the zeal of a mass murderer named Saul of Tarsus to spread the gospel via three missionary journeys while writing half the New Testament. And if God used them, He will use you too. And He wants to. In fact, He’s cultivating talents within you that will serve His kingdom purposes in ways you are unaware of right now. It may be your God-given athletic abilities or music proclivity that God uses to give you a platform to give Him praise. It may be your creative genius. It may be your idiosyncrasy. It could just be your good old-fashioned work ethic. No matter what it is, it’s a gift from God that is to be used for God. Success is doing the best you can, with what you have, where you are. It’s not based on circumstances, wealth, power, or platform. It’s not based on past experience or future potential. It’s stewarding every opportunity, in every way, every day. So today, use what God has given you.
Soul food: Gen 40-41; John 18:1-18; Ps 147:12-20; Ecc 4:9-12
Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV
What you are doing right now might seem insignificant and unrewarding, but it could be preparing you for something God wants to do through you in the future. The Bible says, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 NKJV). There’s a saying: “Nothing is lost in God’s economy,” and it’s true. When Daniel Webster started out as a lawyer he took a case for a fee of just twenty dollars. The case turned out to be a very difficult one, and in preparing for it he had to make a trip to Boston, which cost him more than twenty dollars. But he determined to do a thorough job and win the case, which he did. Years later a company approached him on short notice, asking him to undertake a case for which they were willing to pay him the largest fee he had ever received. In reviewing the case, he found it was almost identical to the one he’d researched and won nearly twenty years earlier, and for which he was paid only twenty dollars. He took the case, and just as before, the verdict was in favor of his client. When you do only what you feel like doing or enjoy doing, you can overlook relationships and undervalue experiences essential to your future. Your destiny is made up of seemingly insignificant moments, experiences, and encounters. Your today is connected to your tomorrow, so maximize each opportunity and relationship that comes your way. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
Soul food: Isa 63-66; John 9:13-23; Ps 115; Prov 29:7-10
Genesis 19:17 NKJV
One time in the West Indies five ships, one of them British, were anchored in the harbor when a monster storm rolled in. The British captain immediately raised anchor and sailed out to meet it. Two days later, battered but still intact, he returned to the harbor and discovered that the ships that hadn’t sailed for fear of the storm had all been driven ashore and destroyed. Generally speaking, as a leader the best way forward is to face challenges head-on and “not look behind you.” Author Jon Gordon points out six important things: (1) Who you are makes a difference. People follow the leader first and his vision second. (2) It’s all about relationships. Pastor Andy Stanley said, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” You can implement all the rules in the world, but if you don’t develop a relationship with the people you’re leading, they’ll rebel. (3) It’s not just about what you do, but what you can inspire, encourage and empower others to do. You bring out the best in people by sharing the best in yourself. (4) Lead with optimism, enthusiasm, and positive energy. Guard against negativity and teach people to focus on solutions, not complaints. (5) Recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and build a team of people who either have the answers or will find them. (6) Accept that success is a process, not a destination. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, recognized that winning was an offshoot of great leadership, teamwork, focus, commitment, and implementing the basics.
Soul food: Exo 33-35; John 4:27-38; Ps 32; Prov 27:1-3
2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT
When we’re insulted, we have a few options. We can retaliate with a stinging comeback, hold a grudge for ages or see it as an opportunity to grow. It can be easy to dwell in bitterness and self-righteousness when we’re hurt. We ask ‘Why us?’ and ‘How could they do that to us?’ instead of asking ‘How can we grow from this?’ It takes a shift in our thinking and our attitude to be able to consider growth in the face of pain. Paul reached a place where he could say: ‘I take pleasure…in the insults…I suffer for Christ.’ Most of us probably aren’t quite on the same wavelength with Paul yet, but with time and practice it can happen. We too can find the good in the bad, the positive in the negative. Speaking of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, one author writes: ‘God sometimes manipulates the actions of our enemies to make them work as friends in order to accomplish His will in our lives. He can bless you through the worst relationships, ones that are painful or negative. The time, effort, and pain we invest in them aren’t wasted because God knows how to make adversity feed destiny into your life. I can’t stop hurts from coming, or promise that everyone who sits at your table will be loyal. But the sufferings of success give us direction, build character, and in the end you find grace to re-evaluate your enemies and realise that like Judas, they are friends in disguise.’ So next time someone hurts us, instead of holding a grudge or retaliating, let’s see them as friends in disguise and take pleasure in the fact we can grow in our character through it.
1 Kings 17:1-6; 1 Kings 18:16-39; 1 Kings 19:9-18; 2 Kings 2:1-12