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
2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT
When you’re insulted, you can retaliate with a stinging comeback or see it as a growth opportunity. David said, “It is good… that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:71 NKJV). Psychologist Dr. Brenda Shoshanna says: “The person who insults us is a teacher…come to help us reduce our ego, develop patience and compassion, practice unconditional forgiveness, and teach us about life and relationships. If you don’t perceive an insult as an insult, but as a teaching or a gift, it loses its power to hurt you. On a practical level, if you’re insulted, say nothing. Give yourself time. Much harm is created by lashing back, escalating the situation, and saying things you may not mean. Recognize it’s your ego – that false sense of pride acting up – and don’t go along with it.” Paul reached a place where he actually took “pleasure in…insults.” Most of us aren’t quite there yet, but with time and practice it can happen. Speaking of Judas, 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 realize that like Judas, they are friends in disguise.”
Soul food: 1 Kings 17:1-6; 1 Kings 18:16-39; 1 Kings 19:9-18; 2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Peter 3:18 KJV
There are two things that help determine personal growth: (1) Your relationships. The Bible says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3 NLT). The company you keep will lift you, level you, or lower you. A lady wrote this letter to an advice columnist: “In my last year of school my English teacher took an essay I’d written and tore it apart in front of the class. I was humiliated – I felt dumb. That was years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.” In a few short seconds the wrong person diminished this woman’s sense of self-worth for a lifetime. (2) Your reflections. When a Sunday school teacher asked a little girl, “Who made you?” she replied, “God made part of me.” The teacher asked, “What do you mean?” The little girl replied, “God made me little – and I growed the rest of myself.” God holds us responsible for our personal growth. The Psalmist wrote, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99 NKJV). The word “meditation” means “reflective thinking.” Like a crock pot, meditation allows your thoughts to slowly simmer until they’re done. Most of us would rather act than think. But as Socrates observed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Reflective thinking is uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. For instance, we have difficulty staying focused. We find the process dull, and we don’t particularly enjoy spending time reflecting on difficult issues. But if you don’t carve out time for reflection and meditation, you won’t mature. You won’t grow in the “grace and…knowledge” you need to succeed. It’s that simple.
Soul food: Num 29:1-6; Matt 24; Rev 11:15-19; 1 Cor 15:50-58