Show some enthusiasm!

2 Timothy 1:6 CEV

Unless you maintain your enthusiasm, life can wear you down. A job that once challenged you can become monotonous, a relationship that once excited you can grow stale, and a daily walk with God that once inspired you can feel like just going through the motions. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek word which means “possessed by, or inspired by God.” But how do you stay inspired?

Just as the Israelites gathered fresh manna every morning, you need a daily infusion of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Paul challenged the Christians in Rome: “Serve the Lord enthusiastically” (Romans 12:11 NLT). And the believers in Galatia: “If someone is eager to do good things…that’s all right” (Galatians 4:18 NLT).

So instead of complaining about all the things you don’t like, realize that the presence and power of God lives within you, and put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Remember whose kingdom you’re a citizen of. God’s!

Author Sheldon Vanauken says: “The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians – when they are somber…joyless…self-righteous…smug… narrow and repressive.” The Christian life is not meant to be a journey to the grave with the goal of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but a race to the finish line, used up, totally fulfilled, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a ride!” David tells us God lifted him out of a pit of despair, put his feet on solid ground, and gave him a new song (See Psalm 40:1-3).

And hasn’t He done the same for you? So show some enthusiasm!

Soul food: Jonah 1-4; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 62; Prov 11:15

Our nation can be saved

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Winston Churchill is attributed with saying, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Take a look at society today; the conditions that preceded the fall of many great civilizations are in place. You ask, “Can our nation be saved?”

Yes! God told Abraham if he could find as few as ten righteous people in the land, He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah from judgment. And a righteous minority can still save our nation. How? Through prayer! God said: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves…pray…seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven…forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Notice four important conditions mentioned in this Scripture: (a) “If my people, who are called by my name.” The future of our nation doesn’t rest in the hands of bankers, talking heads on TV, and politicians; it rests squarely in the hands of God’s redeemed people. (b) “Will humble themselves…pray and seek my face.” God, who needs nobody’s authorization or approval to act, promises to move when His people turn to Him and seek His face in prayer. (c) “And turn from their wicked ways.” Instead of complaining about what’s wrong with society, God commands His people to examine their own hearts to see what’s wrong and make it right. And when they do, He promises to: (d) “Hear from heaven…forgive their sin and…heal their land.”

The truth is, it’s up to us, not them! It’s not too late. Our nation can still be turned around if we’ll pray and seek God with all our hearts.

Soul food: Num 34-36; Mark 8:14-26; Ps 57; Prov 11:14

Your words reveal your heart

Matthew 26:73 NKJV

The words you speak will give you away every time. It happened to Peter. On the night Jesus was arrested and all His disciples scattered, Peter stayed close enough to see what was happening – but not close enough to be identified with Him. The Bible says: “Those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly” (vv. 73-75 NKJV). After that episode nobody accused Peter of being a follower of Jesus!

Isn’t it interesting how profanity in any language has a way of making others question the quality of your relationship with Christ? Your words have the power to build people up or tear them down, draw them to Christ or drive them away. With that in mind, here are two Scriptures you need to underscore and think about often: (1) “Let your speech always be with grace…that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV). (2) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Today, here’s a prayer for you to pray: “Father, may the words I speak this day bring credit to the name of Jesus and draw others to Him. In His name I pray, amen.”

Soul food: Deut 9:13-29; Luke 4:1-13

Preparing for greater things

Matthew 25:23 NIV

To succeed in life you need thick skin when it comes to handling criticism. It’s what separates those who say they want success from those who are prepared to pay for it. For example, if you’ve been praying for a mate to share your life, ask yourself if you’re prepared for the sacrifice and responsibility that comes with marriage. Are you stable? Are you unselfish? Are you mature enough to provide for a family? Or if you’re asking God to increase your business, are you providing outstanding service to your existing clients? Someone quipped: “A peacock that rests on its feathers is just another turkey!”

Sometimes we’re in love with the image of success, but we haven’t counted the actual cost of succeeding. It’s a good thing God doesn’t automatically give us everything we ask for. Often we want something because it looks good in someone else’s life. But God in His wisdom knows that right now it would hurt us because we’re not mature enough to handle it.

God tests us with what we have, in order to develop our consistency and strength. He observes how we handle the pressures that accompany the blessings He’s already given us. He wants to bring us to the place where we’re impervious to adversity; where we’ve learned to appreciate the giver more than His gifts. When we reach that point, we’ll hear Him say, “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (v. 23 NIV). Those words will make everything you’ve been through worthwhile.

Soul food: Num 30:1-32:24; Mark 7:24-37; Ps 44:9-16; Prov 11:10-11

Tell someone about Jesus today

John 4:35 NIV

Jesus said, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’?…open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Someone close to you today may be in desperate need of God’s love. Wouldn’t it be worth risking rejection to find that one who’s ready and willing to respond? The fact is, you may be the only Christian they will meet – or meet today. So if you don’t tell them, who will? Generally speaking, there are five reasons we don’t share our faith more often.

(1) We think it’s the preacher’s job to do it (See Acts 1:8).

(2) We aren’t certain about our own salvation (See 1 John 5:13).

(3) We’re afraid of being rejected (See Luke 12:8-9).

(4) We’ve never taken personal responsibility for learning how to share our faith (See 1 Peter 3:15).

(5) Our love for Christ has grown cold (See Revelation 2:4-5).

Josh McDowell tells of a corporate headhunter who liked to get potential executives relaxed, then look them square in the eye and ask about their purpose in life. Most were shocked and fell apart under the question. One day after talking for a while to a man named Bob, the headhunter leaned over, looked into his eyes and said, “And what’s your purpose in life?” Without blinking, Bob replied, “To go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” The headhunter said, “For the first time in my career I was speechless.”

Today someone’s eternal destiny may rest on your willingness to share God’s love with them. That’s your God-given assignment – so tell them about Jesus.

Soul food: Num 27-29; Mark 7:14-23; Ps 44:1-8; Prov 11:9

Goodness (2)

Matthew 25:21 NIV

When you stand at the judgment seat of Christ, you’ll have one final opportunity to hear the word “good”: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Note, He doesn’t say well thought, or well intentioned, but well done! You’ll be rewarded for what you do. On that day, God will zero in on your actions, not your opinions or intentions.

Goodness should be the last thing you think about when you go to bed and the first thing you think about when you wake. The Bible says, “Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?” (Proverbs 20:11 NIV). You know what you’re really like on the inside, but the only you others see is from the outside.

One Christian leader writes: “Talk is cheap. No matter how much you claim to be a good person, the only public measuring stick is your actions. You may think that by being good you’re not doing a lot of good. But never underestimate the power of even one person to exert tremendous influence by simply doing the right thing, at the right place, and at the right time.”

Mother Teresa always shied away from the limelight. She saw herself as a servant, not a star. Her greatest desire wasn’t to be famous, but to be faithful. As a result, she ended up touching the lives of multitudes even though her only thought was to help the next hurting person. Among her Favourite Scriptures were these words given to us by Christ: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these…of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). So today, seek to do good.

Soul food: Num 25-26; Mark 7:1-13; Ps 37:32-40; Prov 11:7-8