Growing Stronger through Change

‘…under pressure… your faith….shows…’ James 1:3 TM

The one thing we can count on in life is change. We try to resist it by it says, ‘Ready or not, here I come.’ In order to grow stronger through change we must give up, wise up and toughen up. First, don’t be an escape artist; trying to avoid the stress that accompanies change. There is no escape; change is inevitable. Stop regarding it as any enemy and make it your friend. Only when you decide to ride the horse in the direction it’s going, will get to where you need to be. Second, when we’re hit with sudden change, our ‘fight or flight’ instincts aren’t very good at handling it. But there’s a solution. By entrusting our lives fully into God’s care and asking for His wisdom,’… he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into… change’ (Romans 2:4 TM).
God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. Finally, someone quipped, ‘if it wasn’t for stress, I’d have no energy at all.’ Stop and take inventory.
Are you making it harder on yourself than it needs to be?
Are you speaking faith or fear?
Are you convincing yourself you can’t handle the changes?
Are you ready to give up without even trying, or trusting God?

If you’re struggling to make sense of the situation you’re in, read these words: ‘…under (the pressure of change), your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed…’ (James 1:3-4TM)

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What God Expects from You

‘From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ Luke 12:48 NIV (2011 Edition)

Added blessing always brings added responsibility, so

1 Stop complaining. Happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; it comes from recognising and enjoying what you have. So keep a positive attitude and be grateful every day. Rudyard Kipling said, ‘Don’t pay too much attention to fame, power, or money. Someday you’ll meet a person who cares for none of these, and then you’ll know how poor you are’.

2 Stop assuming. When you see your neighbours buying new furniture, taking expensive holidays, and driving the latest car, does something stir inside you to do the same? Be careful; just because someone appears to be in similar circumstances to yours doesn’t mean anything. They might earn twice as much. On the other hand, they may be in debt up to their ears or three-quarters of the way to bankruptcy or a divorce court. Stop making assumptions and trying to be like somebody else.

3 Stop withholding. Bruce Larson said, ‘Money is another pair of hands to heal, feed, and bless the desperate families of the earth. In other words, money is my other self’. But that’s only true if you’re willing to part with it. Money is like manure: if you let it pile up it stinks; if you spread it around it helps things grow. Money gives you options the less fortunate can only pray for. And one more very important thought: How you use your money will be one of the biggest issues you’ll face on Judgement Day. Indeed, it’ll be a determining factor when it comes to your eternal reward. Think about 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
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Growing Through Discouragement

‘Lord, Where do I put my Hope?…’ Psalms 39:7 NLT

Here are four suggestions to help you survive and grow through upheavals such as an unexpected job loss, the death of a loved one, a failed marriage or a serious health issue:
1 Admit how you feel. That doesn’t mean sitting around wallowing in negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how you really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, makes it harder to get back up. We all have down times. The Psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (Psalms 42 & 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired even of life’. (2 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV).
2 Identify the source. Discouragement often comes on the heels of a setback or disappointment. Did something you set your heart on fall apart? Were your hopes unrealistic to start with? Did somebody let your down? Or is your dejection coming from a generalized feeling of burnout?
3 Talk with a trusted counsellor. Solomon said, ‘…The more wise counsel… the better you chances’ (Proverbs 11:14 TM). Don’t let pride prevent you from opening up to those who will listen empathetically and respond wisely. Talking to the right people can lessen your sense of isolation, and also pave the way for others who are hurting to do the same.
4 Be open before God. He, not fate or circumstances, gets to write the last chapter. Maybe He’s trying to teach you something or redirect your energies. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When your hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what you’re going through can become a path to spiritual growth.

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Encourage Someone Today

‘Encourage him, and strengthen him.’ Deuteronomy 3:28 KJV

Encouragement can work miracles. In the movie Stand and Deliver, high school teacher Jaime Escalante has two students in his class named Johnny. One is a happy child and an excellent student; the other spends his time messing around and getting into trouble. When the Parent Teacher Association held its first meeting of the year, a mother came up to Jaime and asked, ‘How’s my son, Johnny, getting along?’ Jaime mistakenly assumed she was the mother of the better student, so he replied, ‘I can’t tell you how much I enjoy him. I’m so glad he’s in my class’. The next day ‘problem Johnny’ came to Jaime and said, ‘My mum told me what you said about me last night. I haven’t ever had a teacher who wanted me in his class.’ The result? He completed his assignments that day, and brought in his completed homework the next morning. A few weeks later he had become one of Jaime’s hardest-working students – and one of his best friends. His life had been turned around because of an accidental word of encouragement. It works like this: When you look for good in a person and express it, you give them something to live up to. In other words, you motivate them to be better than they are. The last thing God told Moses to do was to encourage and strengthen Joshua ‘for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see’ (v 28 KJV). And here’s the great thing about encouragement: You don’t have to be rich, attractive, prominent or brilliant to give it, and it’s always appreciated. So today, encourage someone.

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
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Try Less, Trust More

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.’ Philippians 1:6 NIV

If you want God’s will to be done in your life, don’t rush things. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, did that. As a result Ishmael was born, and that brought all sorts of strife and family complications. Remember: ‘Flesh gives birth to flesh… the Spirit gives birth to spirit’ (John 3:6 NIV), so be sure your plans are conceived by God’s spirit. Don’t try to salvage anything flesh-based. God said, ‘My covenant will I establish with Isaac’ (Genesis 17:21 KJV). Isaac was born as a result of God’s will, done God’s way, in God’s time. Everything that’s conceived in you comes from one of two sources: the flesh or the Spirit. So be careful. People will try to involve you in all kinds of schemes to promote yourself. God doesn’t need anybody’s help to bless you; He can do it all by Himself! That’s why whenever Satan attacks you, you need to be able to point him to your spiritual birthplace and remind him that you didn’t begin this project and you don’t have to finish it. ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.’ And here’s another thought. If God’s dealing with you about carnality, pride, or some other obstacle in your path, don’t resist, don’t run, and don’t get in His way. Like a drowning man frantically trying to save himself – until you stop flailing around God can’t do anything for you. So the word for you today is: ‘Try less and trust more!’

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The Life God wants you to Live

‘We can make our plans, but the Lord Determines the Steps’ Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Here are three important truths to help you enjoy the life God wants you to live:

1 Believe God wants you to succeed. Give up the unscriptural notion that this life has no value. God has a special work for you to do – here and now (Jeremiah 29:11). You ask, ‘What defines success?’ Answer: the progressive achievement of a God-given goal resulting in a feeling good about yourself’. Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do’ Deuteronomy 29:9 NIV.
2 Consult God before you set your goals. The Bible says, ‘We should make plans – counting on God to direct us’ (Proverbs 16:9 TLB). If you’re constantly stressed out and confused, you may be on the wrong track. Go back and check with God; what has He told you to do? It’s His will for you to succeed in these six areas:
a)spiritual; b) relational; c) physical; d) mental; e) social; f) financial
‘Whatever he does shall prosper’ (Psalms 1:3 NKJV).
3 Invest in yourself. ‘Though it cost all you have, get understanding’ Proverbs 4:7 NIV). If you’re willing to spend money at fine restaurants but not on good books, your future is already determined. And the first book you need to invest in is a Bible. John writes, ‘And the Word was God (John 1:1 NIV). That means each time you read God’s Word, you’re depositing more of God into you. WOW! Think how that affects your life! Cultivate a teachable spirit. ‘Let the wise listen and add to their learning’ (Proverbs 1:5 NIV). This is the life God wants you to live!

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Pray About It

‘Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil?) He should pray’ James 5:13 AMP

It’s amazing how long we put up with things before we decide to pray about them. The hymn writer says, ‘O what peace we often forfeit; O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer’. We wonder why God doesn’t do something. We wrestle with the situation in our minds, yet we fail to take advantage of the simplest solution there is – prayer. Charles Spurgeon wrote, ‘The desire to commune with God is intensified by the failure of all other sources of consolation.’ We’re all guilty of treating prayer as a last-ditch effort. When you say things like. ‘Nothing else is working. Maybe I should pray about it.’ Do you realise what that says about you? That you really don’t understand or believe in the power of prayer as you should. You’re carrying burdens you don’t need to carry, and life is harder than it has to be because you don’t realise how powerful prayer is. If you did you’d pray about everything – not as a last resort but as a first response. The Bible says, ‘Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray.’ When you’ve a problem: pray. When someone hurts you: pray. When you’re sick: pray. When you feel like giving up: pray. When someone you love is suffering: pray. When you’re discouraged: pray. Jesus, who prayed early in the morning and late at night, said, Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you received them, and you will have them’ (Mark 11:24 NKJV) So pray about 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
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