Turn it Over to God

‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you’ Psalm 55:22 NIV

Sometimes the best thing to do is – turn the situation over to God. ‘Yes, but what about all those go-getters who rise with the sun, skip breakfast, and break records while I’m just ‘giving it to God’? you ask. Good question. Look at Jesus; He didn’t get started until He was thirty. What about all those ‘wasted’ years? He left them to God. And how did He react to those who heard His message, shrugged, and walked away? He left them to God. And what about those nitpicking Pharisees who gave Him so much grief? He left them to God as well. In The Finishing Touch, Charles Swindoll describes a time in his ministry when he felt driven and drained by never-ending demands. He writes: ‘If folks weren’t changing, I felt responsible. If some drifted, somehow I was at fault. If there wasn’t continual growth, I acted as I needed to make it happen. If a sermon failed to ring with clarity and power, I struggled all of Monday and half of Tuesday. Talk about wasted energy! Time has helped; so has age. Virtually all of the things that once stole my joy and assaulted my motivation I just leave to God. Don’t I care? Of course I care. But those cares are now place in the hands of One who can handle them. What once bothered me, I’ve learned to give over to Him who doesn’t mind being bothered. Whereas criticism used to cripple me for days, I now do my best to sift, shift and sail. I learn what I can – and turn the rest over to God.

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The Cure for Worry

‘Offer up your Prayers and Requests to God’ Philippians 4:6 CEV

The Bible says, ‘With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then…God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel’ (vv6-7 CEV). When you pray more, you worry less. That means you have a choice: either pray about it or worry about it. In prayer you give the problem to God, therefore you experience more peace of mind. Does that mean you won’t worry about the problem at all? No. It means you’ll worry about it less. While your goal is to give it completely to God and not worry about it at all, you’ll only get there step by step. God’s not asking you to exist in a state of denial. ‘Don’t worry – be happy!’ fails to appreciate the seriousness of the concerns you have. God doesn’t expect you to suddenly stop caring. Instead He offers an alternative to the pointless and exhausting habit of worry: ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17KJV). Does that mean a thirty-second prayer will rid you of all anxiety? No. It means start your day with prayer, and continue praying off and on throughout the day. Pray as your drive. Pray at work. Pray before your lunch break. Pray when you’re disappointed by something. Pray when you surprises come. Pray when you triumph. Pray in the midst of painful news. Pray without ceasing – literally. Your heavenly Father, being deeply touched by your struggles, loves it when you come to Him asking for help. He’s right there, reading to step in. Just invite Him to do it.

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF

Get up and Try Again

‘Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen…and help you; I will uphold you with my…right hand’ Isaiah 41:10 NIV

To succeed in life you need two things:

1. The right people. Sometimes the first step towards getting out of discouragement is finding somebody who can lift you. When you spend time with someone who is continually negative and full of despair about their life, you can come out of that conversation feeling negative and full of despair at your life too. The company you keep will either lift you up or pull you down. Paul wrote, ‘God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titas’ (2 Corinthians 7:6 NIV). You need a Titus in your life, and you need to become a Titus to others. The Bible says ‘Bear…one another’s burdens’ (Galations 6:2 KJV)
2. The right perspective. Over half of all salespeople fail because they don’t go back a second or third time. About 58 per cent make one call and stop. Twenty five per cent make two calls and stop. Fifteen per cent make three calls and stop. The 12 per cent who go back again and again and again make 80 per cent of all sales. That’s the group you belong in. Don’t settle for failure; get up and try again! God will work with you (see Philippians 1:6).
Missionary and theologian E Stanley Jones said, ‘When life kicks you, let it kick you forward.’ Refuse to accept defeat. Remember, you’ll be rewarded for what you finished, not for what you started. Sometimes the last key on the ring is the one that opens the door, so ask God for the strength to keep persevering until you win!

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Why Jesus Came

‘Enoch walked with God 300 years’ Genesis 5:22 NIV

Life is a journey with a definite beginning and end. And if you’re wise you’ll do what Enoch did for 300 years – he walked with God. Can you imagine how well you’d know God after spending all those years with Him. There’s nothing dull or boring about walking with God. The psalmist says, ‘You have made known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence’ (Psalm 16:11 NIV). God made you for Himself, and only when you discover His purpose for your life will you find peace and joy. If you were to take a fish out of the ocean and place it on the beach, you’d see its scales dry up as it gasped for breath. Is that fish happy? No. If you covered it with a mountain of cash would it be happy? No. Would an iPad, a good book, and a cool drink make it happy? No. Would a new wardrobe? No. Only one thing will make it happy: putting it back in the water. That fish will never be happy on the beach because it wasn’t made for the beach. It was made for the ocean, in the same way you were made for fellowship with God. You’ll always feel like a fish out of water – never knowing peace and joy – until you find Him. And the good news is He’s as close to you as a prayer. Once you ask Him into your heart you’ll never feel empty again. Do you know why Jesus came that first Christmas? He tells us: ‘So that (you) may have the full measure of my joy within’ (John 17:13 NIV).

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A Promise to Praying Parents

‘They shall come back from the land of the enemy’ Jeremiah 31:16 NKJV

Are you living under a cloud of guilt, feeling like a failure because your child has gone astray? Don’t do it! The Bible teaches that sometimes children simply won’t listen to the counsel of their parents. Solomon was probably giving a word of personal testimony when he wrote, ‘A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke’ (Proverbs 13:1 NKJV). Jesus didn’t hold the father accountable for the fact that his prodigal son went astray (see Luke 15:11). And if you did your best, God doesn’t hold you accountable either. The truth is that bad parents sometimes turn out good children, and good parents sometimes have children who go bad. God’s first two children were placed in a perfect paradise, yet they rebelled. Ultimately, we’re all given the power to choose. There comes a time when every child is no longer a child, and has to take responsibility for his or her actions. So, if you’ve done your best as a parent, don’t let the devil put a guilt trip on you. And if you’ve failed as a parent, it’s not the unpardonable sin. Not only will God forgive you, but you can also claim this wonderful promise: ‘Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future… that your children shall come back to their own border’. (Jeremiah 31:16-17 NKJV). Don’t give up on your children, because God hasn’t. Keep praying and believing, and allow Him to work on them.

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How to Overcome Fear

‘We shall reap if we do not lose heart’ Galations 6:9 NKJV

Don’t allow what you can’t do to interfere with what you can do. Boxing manager Cus D’Amato said, ‘The hero and the coward both feel the same fear, but the hero uses his fear and projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same fear; it’s what you do with it that matters’. Most negative emotions can be converted into something positive to help us get further in life. Are you afraid of poverty? Convert it into a work ethic. Are you afraid of greediness? Convert it into generosity. Are you afraid of rejections? Convert it to the ability to connect with people. Are you afraid of insignificance? Convert it to the service of others. As economist Roger Babson remarked, ‘if things go wrong, don’t go with them’. Instead, seek a new way to do it. You can turn your life around by taking the thing that once created fear, and using that energy to do something worthwhile. There are many things in life you can’t control, and there’s no good reason to worry about those things. Writer Harold Stephens said, ‘There’s a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem; a concerned person solves a problem.’ How can you become a problem-solver? By focusing on the things you can control. And the first one is your attitude. Remember, what happens to you isn’t nearly as important as what happens in you. The second is your calendar. You may not be able to control today’s circumstances, but you can do your best to plan the time you have. Most of us fear the future because we don’t prepare for it.

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Keep on Praying

‘Never stop praying’ 1 Thessalonians 5:17 CEV

Have you become discouraged and stopped praying about the problem? If so, the word for you today is: ‘Keep on praying.’ God may not answer in the way you think He should, or within the time frame you think He should, but when you pray according to His Word, He has promised to answer: ‘No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11 NKJV). When the children of Israel went to battle against a vastly superior army of Amalekites, Moses selected the Mountain of Prayer over the Valle of Battle and the Israelites won (see Exodus 17:8-13). When Abraham learned about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he ‘remained standing before the Lord’ (Genesis 18:22 NIV) rather than rushing out to warn the cities. When advisors informed Nehemiah that Jerusalem was in ruins, what did he do? Before he laid one stone in the foundation, he built a foundation of prayer under the whole project (see Nehemiah 1:4). Paul’s letters contain more requests for prayer than they do appeals for money or comfort. And what about Jesus? He rose up early to pray (see Luke 22:39-46). Every word He spoke and every work He performed was saturated n prayer. And if He needed to do that, you do too! Bottom line: you can accomplish great things after you’ve prayed. So the word for you today is: keep on praying.

This is reproduced with kind permission from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) Word for Today. Copies can be obtained from them at UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke on Trent, ST6 4JF