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01 Jan 2004

Can you imagine trying to fill the sandals Moses wore? God had used him to turn the Nile River into blood, part the Red Sea, destroy the Egyptian army, receive His law on Mount Sinai, and feed over 2 million Israelites each day in the wilderness. How would you like to follow somebody with a CV like that? But God told Joshua, ?No-one will be able to stand up against you?As I was with Moses, so I will be with you?? and Joshua took the confidence he needed to pick up where Moses left off. If you?ve read the old stories of those God used to do massive things and wondered ?Does He still move like that today?? wonder no more! Times change ? God doesn?t. We follow the same God who worked through Moses and Paul, Deborah and Esther. God still rocks! He?s not got bored or distracted; he can give you victory in the face of defeat, and turn last year?s disaster into this year?s celebration. The heroes of the Bible all had one thing in common ? they were just ordinary bods who took some risks in obedience to faith, trusting their extraordinary God to give them results! And He did! Paul writes, ?We live by faith, not by sight? (2 Corinthians 5:7). The enemy fears your words of faith, but goes into panic mode when followed by acts of faith. When God says something to you, it?s always for a good reason; He won?t command you to do what He won?t empower you to do. Passing on the baton at the end of His own life Joshua could say, ?Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed? (Joshua 23:14). Take a deep breath and think about that as you look to the year ahead. I SURRENDER 02 Jan 2004

Surrender is not often used in a positive way. We see battered and bruised soldiers on the news surrendering and it doesn?t look like fun! In today?s world where winning is everything, surrendering is not an option. But it?s the heart of Christian living. Why? 1) Our self gets in the way. We?ve all got a bit of the ?control-freak? in us. It?s a security thing. But it never works our desire for ?control? ends up being the cause of so much stress in out lives. We try to be strong and decisive but then hit our own limitations and so react with anger and resentment. ?What?s the answer?? you ask. Jesus said, ??if people want to follow Me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow Me? (Luke 9:23 NCV). Surrendering to God is something you do each day ? and sometimes each hour or even each minute. 2) Our trust in God is wobbly. You won?t surrender to God unless you totally trust Him, and you won?t totally trust Him unless you?re convinced that He loves you. Remember, if you want to know how God feels about you, look at Christ with His arms outstretched on the cross saying, ?I love you this much?. That single image of eternal, universal victory achieved by complete personal surrender is for the entire world a statement never to be equalled. It has become our heartbeat and fingerprint, our wakeup call and our life?s rhythm. BRAIN TRANSPLANT 03 Jan 2004

It makes sense to have a backup plan right? Just in case God doesn?t come through the way you think He should? Watch-out, you may find that the more you try to fix things, the more anxiety you experience! Fixing doesn?t go well with trusting; it?s like gravy on ice-cream, they just don?t go well together! So what if you happen to be one of those people who has the gift of ?sorting it out?? are you on the scrap heap? No, just remember that ??the foolishness of God is wiser than man?s wisdom?? (1 Corinthians 1:25). The Holy Spirit will teach you! One of the pitfalls of too much logic is that it causes you to become double-minded, stuck ? between the options. Listen, ??a man of two minds [is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything?? (James 1:8 Amp). Does that describe you? Instead of always trying to figure things out ? make a decision today that every time you are about to make a head-judgment, you?ll stop and pray: ?Lord, I?m not going to try and figure this out purely by myself, I? m bringing it to you for the answer.? When you allow the Holy Spirit to show you the when?s, why?s and how?s, you?ll begin to experience God?s peace in a way you never have before. So make a decision today ? to let God into the grey stuff between your ears! NO INSTANT DOWNLOAD 04 Jan 2004

In the film ?The Matrix? Neo gets advanced Kung Fu skills downloaded directly into his brain. Couldn?t God do something like that for us??? Well, good learning involves doing. Often we have to learn to do something 50 times over in order to get it. We think, ?Not again. I thought I?d already learned that!? but God knows better. The Old Testament stories tell how quickly we forget and revert to our old patterns. We need repetition, repetition, repetition? Good learning removes bad learning. Your problems didn?t develop overnight and they won?t and they won?t disappear overnight. There?s no

pill, or programme that?ll instantly undo years of habits. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. Good learning requires good attitude. Bad attitude keeps us living in denial. Only when we allow the truth to shine into our hearts, can we begin to really learn about God?s eternal plans. We can?t learn without a humble, teachable attitude. Good learning causes revolutions. We fear letting go of our old ideas about life because, like an old pair of shoes they?re comfortable and familiar. For many of us our identity is rooted in our mind-set. We say, ?It?s just the way I am.? Our deeper worry is, ?If I let go of my habit, hurt or hang-up, who will I be?? That thought is ultimately doomed, our teacher the Holy Spirit wants to revolutionize our old thought patterns with radical new Kingdom learning ? Are you up for it! TEMPTATION (1) 05 Jan 2004

Temptations come at us everyday, sometimes blatant and upfront, sometimes crafty and in disguise. So what do you do? You start by resisting the thought, but you find it only intensifies your focus on the wrong thing and strengthens its appeal. The more you fight the feeling the more it consumes you it seems to get energy from the attention you give it. No, the quickest way to neutralise temptation is divert your attention to something else! The battle is won or lost in your mind. Whatever has got your attention has got you. Ever watch a food advertisement on TV like those mouth-watering stuffed crust pizzas?. suddenly feel hungry? That?s the power of suggestion. We naturally gravitate toward what we focus on. Repeating, ?I must stop eating so much ice cream? or ?I must not watch Channel 5 after 10.30? is a self-defeating strategy, it keeps you focused on what you don?t want. A diversionary strategy is far more effective. Once your mind is on something else the temptation loses its power. Your mind is your most vulnerable organ so you must keep it safe from harm. You defeat bad thoughts by replacing them with good ones. This is the principle of replacement. You overcome evil with good (see Romans 12:21). Satan can?t get your attention when your mind is preoccupied with something else. That?s why the Bible says: ?...if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ? think about such things.? (Philippians 4:8) TEMPTATION (2) 06 Jan 2004

Satan is very predictable! All his temptations follow this familiar pattern: 1) Desire! First he targets a desire within you, like the desire for revenge and exploits it to damage your relationship with God. And it doesn?t have to be a negative desire, he?ll try to distort a positive desire e.g./ to be loved and feel pleasure. He?ll tempt you to fulfill that positive desire in a negative way. If you didn?t have desires, temptation wouldn?t attract you. The Bible says there?s: ??a whole army of evil desires within you? (James 4:1 TLB). 2) Doubt! Satan tries to get you to doubt what God has said about sin. ?Is it really wrong?? ?How come others do it?? ?Doesn?t God want me to be happy?? The Book of Hebrews warns: ??watch out! Don?t let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn away from the living God? (Hebrews 3:12 CEV). 3) Deception! Satan?s ?the father of lies? (see John 8:44). Nothing he tells you could possibly do you any good. He whispers, ?Nobody will ever know. It?ll feel good. It?s only a little sin?. But a little sin is like a little crack in a window ? it?s only going to get worse ? not better. 4) Disobedience! If you carry a thought long enough, you?ll change behaviour. Every coke addict starts with one snort and every alcoholic with one drink, every affair with one flirty comment. James warns, ? But people are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires?Do not be deceived?? (James 1:14-16 TEV). So watch out for these 4 Ds and don?t get caught by them. TEMPTATION (3) 07 Jan 2004

No matter how super spiritual you think you are becoming, don?t expect to outgrow temptation! Satan is scared of your potential so the closer you get to God the more he?ll attack you. While you?re praying he?ll throw an evil thought at you to distract and shame you. Don?t be alarmed. Satan fears your prayers and he?ll do anything to hinder them. Instead of beating yourself up, ?take the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.? (Ephesians 6:16) HERE?S 2 MORE TEMPTATION TOPPLING TIPS 4 2DAY. 1) Know your patterns! Ask yourself, ?When am I tempted?? Are you most vulnerable when you?re tired, alone, bored, depressed or under stress; when you?ve been hurt, angry, worried or even after a big spiritual high. Identify your patterns! ?God?s people?protect themselves by watching where they go? (Proverbs 16:17 CEV). 2) Get God?s help! ? Call on Me in times of trouble. I will rescue you? (Psalm 50:15 GWT). ?Trust Me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory? (Psalm 50:15 NLT). So why don?t we go to God more often? Maybe at that temptation moment we just want to do what we want to do! Right? Or we?re embarrassed because we keep giving in to the same stuff. Listen: God doesn?t get impatient with us. ?Let us?approach God?s throne, where?we will receive?grace to help us just when we need

it? (Hebrews 4:16 TEV). You can shout for God?s help 100 times a day, and He?ll be there for you! Just as the roots of a tree grow stronger when the wind blows against it, each time you stand up to temptation you become a more like Jesus. TEMPTATION (4) 08 Jan 2004

Have you ever thought about temptation like this - it?s just as much an opportunity to do the right thing, as the wrong thing. Temptation just gives you the choice! God can and will turn anything around for His max glory and our max benefit. For instance, He teaches us to love by bringing troubled people into our lives. God teaches us to be happy in the midst of sadness by causing us to turn to Him for comfort and strength when all our usual supports are gone. He develops peace within us, not by making things go the way we planned, but by allowing times of chaos and confusion. Peace comes when we choose to trust God in situations where we?re tempted to worry or be afraid. Likewise, patience is developed through circumstances in which we?re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse. Jesus was tempted in every way but never sinned (Hebrews 4:15) So he understands. And God is for you, ??when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out?? (1 Corinthians 10:13) The truth is, each time you defeat a temptation, you become more like Jesus. TEMPTATION (5) 09 Jan 2004

If you?re stuck in a cycle of good intention, giving way to failure and guilt, you won?t get better on your own! Certain temptations are only overcome with the help of a committed Christian friend who prays for you and will give some tough love. Beating the secrecy is part of the answer to your lonely struggle. Listen: ?Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed??(James 5:16). Problems only grow in the dark, but when you bring them out into the light they shrink. It?s true. You?re only as sick as the secrets you keep, so please take off your mask, stop pretending everything?s okay and come out into the light. Satan wants you to think you are the only one to have your temptations, to think that you can never share them. WRONG! You?ll be amazed how many people fight the same temptations! But we?re feel ashamed and embarrassed and we want others to think everything?s under control. But the opposite is true, whatever you can?t talk about already has control of you! If you could handle it on you own you?d have done it by now. Willpower and resolutions aren?t enough when sinful habits are engrained. So, if you need help today, find a Christian friend you can trust, and ask for it. Yes, it?s scary and embarrassing to admit your weaknesses, but if they care about you, they won?t flip out and get angry, they?ll do all they can to help. That?s the family of God in action. TEMPTATION (6) 10 Jan 2004

In the heat of the moment, all of us are capable of sin! That?s why James writes: ?Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you? (James 4:7). When you?re in the place of full submission to God , the devil?s power is neutralised and dissolved. ?Weapons made to attack you won't be successful?? (Isaiah 54:17 CEV) The earth, both the visible and the invisible worlds, have become a combat zone. And the Bible teaches you to be ready to fight for your holy destiny. Paul answers, ?Put on salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God? (Ephesians 6:17 NLT). Start by committing your life to Christ. You won?t be able to say ?no? to the devil until you?ve first said ?yes? to Jesus. Only with ?the helmet of salvation?, is your mind protected. Next, learn to handle the word of God as a weapon, like Jesus did when he was tempted in the wilderness. Every time Satan shot a seductive word at him, Jesus Christ shattered it with a powerful slice of Scripture. Did Jesus do any deals or make fancy excuses? No, He started flexing some Gospel. You can do the same! Memorised Scripture is absolutely essential to winning. You must be permanently loaded with it. Like Jesus, you must have the truth stored in your heart and ready for recall in an instant. If you don?t, you?ve got no rounds in your Uzi! So, starting today, really get serious about memorising verses and start getting used to the feeling of winning! YOU GOT IT 11 Jan 2004

David didn?t show up that day with the intention of becoming a hero, he was just delivering a bit of a lunch to his big brothers. But when He saw Goliath, he saw an opportunity that the other so-called warriors missed. Today, opportunities will catch your eye ? if you?re not alert and ready, don?t miss them! The courage David displayed that day against Goliath had actually been there all along. Have you realised that you already have more amazing qualities than you give yourself credit for. The Bible

says God ??has given us everything we need for life and godliness?? (2 Peter 1:3). So maybe you?ve seen your opportunity but you?re thinking ?ok ? I know what God wants me to do ? I just don?t know how to do it?. First off, don?t over-complicate things. The King tried to give David his own armour but it was too clumsy and too fussy. David decided to keep it simple. Secondly, David utilised his existing skills in a new area ? he?d never used his slingshot on a human before! Can you see any opportunities today? The equipment may already be in your hand. Use what God has already given you and be the answer to someone?s prayer. READY 4 THE TEST 12 Jan 2004

Unless you are part of the Jackass crew you probably don?t trip up deliberately. Nobody plans to fall, but ignoring your spiritual condition as good as guarantees it. ?So what can I do?? Begin preparing ? now! You can wait until the night before your exams to prepare, but there?s no crash revision for a test of character. They come at you without warning and you?re either ready or you?re not. PARTNERSHIP. Let others in on what you want to be and ask them to help you get there. Let them ask you the tough questions to check any behaviour that might take you off the rails. Then on those occasions when you do go off the tracks a bit they will notice and steer you back in line. Be brave and ask ?what small issue in my life right now has the potential to become a big deal in the future?? It?s better to discuss and pray about your struggles now with a handful of people who really care about you rather than run the risk of messing up big time somewhere down the line. You don?t know what is gonna come and test you this week but you can be alert and ready when it comes. JESUS STYLE 13 Jan 2004

What do these people have in common ?: 1) A woman sobbing in front of an angry mob that wants to kill her 2) A paralysed man on a stretcher begging his friends not to give up as they wonder how to get through an impossibly large crowd 3) A blind man calling out in the street for help. They are all ? bruised reeds? and ?smouldering wicks? that God refused to give up on! Have you ever seen a reed? It?s tall, skinny and very fragile. Kids playing beside the river Jordan made music pipes out of them causing all sorts of chaos as they messed around finding the longest and straightest. Perhaps once you stood tall and strong, nourished and rooted in the riverbed. But now you?ve been twisted and knocked, bruised by hurtful words or constant let-downs. What?s closer to extinction that a smouldering wick? When the oil in primitive lamps was gone and the wick burned low, it was just left to fizzle out, then thrown away as worthless. Did you once glow with faith, lighting the path for others until the icy winds of criticism and unforgiveness left you one flicker away from darkness? The world thinks it knows what to do with bruised reeds or smouldering wicks - break you off and snuff you out! But not Jesus; ?A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out?? No matter how far gone you may feel, you?re not beyond the reach of God?s amazing grace. So, come to Him today and let him make you feel whole again! GUTS NOT RUTS 14 Jan 2004

Even the most out-going people have times when they just want to cling to the familiar, to shrink into the comfort zone. The trouble is, just like when a balloon slowly deflates, so when we?re no longer being stretched we just go baggy and saggy, become complacent, our shine and bouncyness has gone and that?s no fun at all. So, if today you feel like there?s more than you?ve been settling for, it may be time to let God breathe into you and expand you again. Let him nudge you into some new experiences, new relationships and new opportunities. When Jesus called James and John they were on familiar turf, doing what came naturally ? repairing their fishing nets. But they couldn?t do that and still follow him. Neither can you! The Bible says, ?Immediately He called them; they left?and went after Him.? They had to leave the familiar in order to fulfil their density. And just in case you think you?re to young for what he?s suggesting remember many of the prophets were called as kids and most of the disciples were hardly out of their teens. Age isn?t an issue, availability is! It takes guts to leave ruts but if you want to experience God in a deeper dimension ? one that?ll stretch you ? you must be ready to leave your comfort zone and follow Him. Are you? SPIRITUAL LANDMARKS 15 Jan 2004

Take a sheet of paper ? draw a long line on it. Put a zero on the left end and your age on the right, now mark all the important events in between?.. When God miraculously opened the Jordan River for the Israelites to pass over, He knew something they didn?t ? that soon they?d come up against Jericho,

their biggest battle. That?s when they?d need reminders and a reference point. So He told them to collect 12 stones from the Jordan and build a landmark. This would act as a reminder of His past faithfulness. God was saying, ?When you can?t cope with the future, check with the past. My goodness is guaranteed.? The prophet Samuel did the same after Israel defeated the Philistines. He took a stone and named it Ebenezer, which is Hebrew for ?Stone of Help? (see 1 Samuel 7:12). Look back at your paper and add the spiritual landmarks in your life so far. Like the first day you really realised Jesus loved you, or specific times when He answered your prayer, or doors He opened that you thought were permanently shut; or scrapes He brought you through. Keep a safe record of these events! They?re important, because whenever you?re struggling, they?ll remind you of how God?s cared for you. They? ll help you to see His past goodness, even when you weren?t aware of it. Remembering yesterday?s blessings can give you the confidence to face whatever tomorrow brings. WHO GETS THE CREDIT? 16 Jan 2004

Ever hear of the ?Imposter Syndrome?? It describes those who feel totally unworthy of their success, so they live in defensive mode, never allowing anyone too close. Listen: True success is an inside job. It?s your verdict on your life, and you don?t have to be defensive to yourself! When educator, Parker Palmer, was offered a college presidency it meant more money, status and influence. Career-wise it was a gift! But when he asked some trusted friends to help him check out if it was God?s will, one asked, ?What would you like about being president?? Parker replied, ?Well, I wouldn?t like the politics and fund-raising, or giving up studying and teaching.? His friend pushed him a bit, ?Yes, but what would you enjoy.? Parker writes: ?I felt compelled to give an honest answer, one that appalled even me. ?I guess what I?d like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.? There was a long silence and then my friend asked something that cracked us all up ? and cracked me wide open; ?Parker,? he said, ?Can?t you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper??? Watch the Olympics and you?ll realise that the British are the world?s best losers! Don?t be fooled, you should never feel guilty about being good at something. If God has decided to bless you and you find yourself in the limelight just remember to give him the credit for it. DARE TO DREAM 17 Jan 2004

The UK national lottery is run by a company called Camelot and their motto is ?serving the nations dreams?. Now come on, if all Britain dreams about is a few numbered balls popping out of a machine twice a week we?re stuffed! One thing is true though, we all need a dream. Every great accomplishment began as a dream. All things are created twice: first in your mind, then in your life. Dreamers allow their minds to wander outside the boundaries of ?what is?, creating a mental picture of ?what could be?. They?re not always the most talented or the best educated - just the ones who refuse to put the breaks on their thinking or to limit themselves by what others have done, or failed to do. And that requires courage ? lots of it! With the arrival of every new dream suddenly a crowd of doubts appear. No sooner is our dream conceived than our minds are filled with the reasons why it won?t work. And there?ll be plenty of people around to confirm those fears! In spite of that we should get on and dream; otherwise the best we can hope for is fulfilling the dreams of others. Why not ask God if He has a new dream to give you today? COACHING (1) 18 Jan 2004

Anybody who really wants to reach their highest potential needs a good coach. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. You may be gifted, but without help you?ll never reach your peak. Why would a world class tennis player like Andre Agassi need a coach, especially one who?s not as good on the court as he is? Agassi says: ?Tennis requires subtle adjustments crucial to winning, and my coach, Gil, is the best at making them. The older I get the more valuable he becomes.? Why? Because age and experience don?t necessarily make you better; often they just deepen the rut you?re in. In the world of athletics nobody performs her way out of needing a coach. Yet many of us operate under the misguided assumption that because we?re not in a ?competition?, we don?t need to be ?coached?. However, we still go ahead and measure ourselves against others anyway. A spiritual coach is someone who is ambitious to see you become everything God made you to be. Your self-evaluation may be good, but the evaluation of others is better. A good coach will always measure your performance against your inner potential, not somebody else?s record. Because a coach knows what you?re capable of they can push you to your limit. By the way, good coaches are involved on the scene giving tips and encouragement, not back at the office waiting for a report. They?ll invest themselves in your success; a win for you is a win for them. So ask God to bring you into contact with a coach. COACHING (2) 19 Jan 2004


You?ll never become a great leader until you become a great learner! Learning requires accepting that we don?t know it all, which is maybe not something you?re 100% comfortable with. It?s really easy to confine learning to the classroom but actually our most important lessons happen in the life outside. If you?re ever going to benefit from a coach you?ll need to be able to submit key areas of your life. The more you think you know, the less likely you are to place yourself under the influence of those who really know and can help you. This is especially true when you view yourself as more capable, passionate or talented than your peers. e.g. you?re a bit of a big-head (what ? moi?). Wisdom always seeks advice! A wise woman knows her limitations, only a fool believes she has none. Only the naive or arrogant operate under the assumption that they can make all the right choices all the time without input from others. Here are a few of Solomon?s thoughts on coaching: 1)? The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice? (Proverbs 12:15) 2) ?Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed? (Proverbs 15:22) 3) ?Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise (Proverbs 19:20). It?s not what your coach knows, it?s what he or she sees that is valuable to you. A coach is an extra pair of eyes ? so why be short-sighted without them? COACHING (3) 20 Jan 2004

So what exactly does a spiritual coach do? It splits into 3 areas really: 1) observation 2) instruction 3) inspiration. At first, the thought of letting someone get involved in these ways may be a bit intimidating. But think about how much good it is going to do you. The following is a list of areas in which you might consider inviting a coach (or mentor) to evaluate you: a) spiritual development b) personal discipline c) relationships d) decision making e) finances f) conflict resolution g) goal setting h) planning ahead. As you get out into the workplace, part-time or full-time, look for an environment where you?ll be coached ? not just paid. In your early years what you learn is more important than what you earn. Listen: what you don?t know can hurt you; it can keep you from your potential. Don?t let the process stop with you. If you?ve found out something that is really cool, pass it on to your mates. Jesus said, ?? freely you have received, freely give? (Matthew 10:8). ?But nobody?s going to take me seriously.? Get a grip! You?re not responsible for knowing everything. You?re just responsible for sharing what you know with others. As you pour into them what has been poured into you, they?ll go farther, faster too. So, find a coach and be blessed. Become a coach and start blessing others! PLUG IN 21 Jan 2004

Often God calls us to step out and do things we don?t feel ready for. Why? So that we?ll learn to lean more on Him. ?Does that mean I won?t make mistakes?? No, it means you probably will. But instead of being discouraged you?ll accept them as part of the learning curve and go on to greater things! Often we look at a task and think, ?There?s no way I can do this.? Hey, you?re looking through the wrong end of the telescope! You?re looking at yourself instead of God! When God called Joshua to take the place of Moses, He promised him: ??as I was with Moses, so I will be with you? (see Joshua 1:5). Now if God promises to be with you (and He does), that?s all you need! Your weakness is an opportunity for God?s power to be seen, (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When your strength is lacking in the natural realm, you can plug into power in the spiritual realm. Listen: ??be strong in the Lord be empowered through your union with Him; draw your strength from Him?? (Ephesians 6:10 Amp). Where do you draw strength from? The ultimate source ? God! The Holy Spirit will fuel you as you worship Jesus, as you sing and dance you can literally feel your battery charging up! With His strength you can do more, say more, be more than you thought possible. So today, stop trying to do it all in your own strength ? plug into God! HANDLING CRITICISM (1) 22 Jan 2004

Are you being criticized? If so, try doing these 3 things: 1) Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Learn how to tell the difference by asking: a) In what spirit is it given? If your critic?s attitude is kind, rest assured it?s meant to be constructive. b) When is the criticism given? When somebody criticizes you publicly, usually their intentions aren?t the best. c) Why is the criticism given? Solomon says, ?The purposes of a man?s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out? (Proverbs 20:5). 2) Don?t take yourself too seriously. Face it, we all do stupid things now and then. A secure person can laugh at themselves and learn from their blunders. 3) Look beyond the criticism and see the critic. Is it someone you respect? You should probably listen. Are they constantly critical? If so don?t place too much value on what they say, they?re probably just projecting their frustration on to you. Some folks only talk when they?re ticked off. Your critic might be hurting about something. Sadly hurting people often from their pain, lash out at others, so ask

yourself ?Is this criticism for my benefit, or just the overflow of a hurting person?? The important question is, does your critic sincerely want to help you? HANDLING CRITICISM (2) 23 Jan 2004

Let?s take another look at handling criticism. 1) Watch your reaction! You know what they say: ?A chip on your shoulder usually indicates wood higher up.? Your negative reaction can be more destructive than somebody else?s initial criticism. When someone puts their finger on an issue in your life that you?re already sensitive about, it?s all too easy to explode on them. Don?t let the pressure build up like that, give it to God. 2) Realize that good people get criticized! Jesus was called an over-eater (see Matthew 11:19); a boozer (see Luke 7:34); a friend of shady characters (see Matthew 11:19). People whose minds are polluted and whose vision isn?t clear, won?t understand behaviour based on obedience to God. So, when your ideas and values conflict with theirs, try to stay cool. 3) Stay physically and spiritually in shape! Exhaustion has a profound effect on the way we act and react. The great prophet Elijah slipped in to depression because of weariness. He?d just had enough of running away from the evil queen Jezebel. Listen to him, ?I have had enough, Lord?Take my life? (1 Kings 19:4). How?s that for a ?downer?? Watch out, Satan will take advantage of your tiredness. When you? re nerves and emotions are on edge it?s easy to miss the opportunity for growth that comes with the criticism. HANDLING CRITICISM (3) 24 Jan 2004

As we?re on a roll with this, here?s some more! 1) Surround yourself with the right people! Take every chance you get to spend time with those who build you up, not tear you down. Quality time with the right people will relieve you from the effects of the worst criticism. It?ll also keep you from becoming critical yourself. 2) Concentrate on your mission! Most of us do the opposite; when criticism comes we forget our mission and focus on our mistakes. If you run every time you make a mistake you?ll never accomplish anything ? hang in there! The only real mistakes are the ones from which we learn nothing. So instead of dwelling on your mistakes, get on with growing wiser and moving on to finish the job. There?s an old Arabian proverb that says, ?If you stop every time a dog barks your road will never end.? Don?t let your mistakes become roadblocks, turn them into building blocks. 3) Go Higher! When crows attack a hawk, the hawk doesn?t counter-attack, instead it soars higher and higher in ever widening circles until the pests leave it alone. Good strategy! Circle above your adversaries rather than stooping to their level: Listen: ?It is to a man?s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel? (Proverbs 20:3) HANDLING CRITICISM (4) 25 Jan 2004

Let?s take one final look at handling criticism. 1) What does everyone else think? Mrs. Smith invited a well-known pianist to entertain at her dinner party. When it was over everyone came over to praise his performance except one lady. ?I thought he was lousy?, she said. Immediately the hostess interrupted: ?Pay no attention to her. She doesn?t know what she?s talking about. She only repeats what she hears everybody else say.? Weigh up honestly to see if your critic is on their own or if others share their opinion; if they do, you may need to take their comments more seriously and even make some changes. 2) Only time will tell. Time is on your side. In time, things that are fake are recognised, deception comes to the surface and the truth will be known. When Nathaniel asked concerning Jesus, ?Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?? Philip answered, ?Come and see?. Often as events unfold, the cause of the criticism will be eliminated and you?ll be looking good. You?ve heard of Abraham Lincoln right? The great American President. The day after he delivered his most famous speech, The Chicago Times called it, ?Silly, flat, dish-watery utterances?. Today millions visit The Lincoln Memorial, but nobody remembers the journalist who wrote those words. R U A PIONEER? 26 Jan 2004

Pro-skateboaders are always pushing themselves to pull more and more extreme tricks, they want to be the first to master the most complicated moves. At the X-games in 1999, Tony Hawk became the first to pull a 900 in a live contest. It cost him 11 painful wipe-outs before he pulled it off. People who have that spirit are called ?Pioneers?. They?d rather risk criticism and experience failure on the way to success, than remain silent and fade away on the sidelines. They have the courage to go first and that?s what gives others courage to follow them! Most folks have a dream they long to fulfill ? they just need somebody to take the first step to show them the way. You can be that somebody! All of us are provided with pioneering possibilities but here?s the difference: eventually a pioneer?s need for

progress overwhelms her reluctance to take a risk. She can even stay cool having tried and failed, than not having tried at all. Have you noticed that failure looks and feels completely different in the rearview mirror, than it does when it is staring at you through the windshield. The truth is, while the average person fears stepping out into a new opportunity, the pioneer fears missing out on it. So, if dream up a new possibility today, go for it: ??I am with you; that is all you need?? (2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB). A BIT TOO FAMILIAR 27 Jan 2004

Every once in a while you come across something new and it?s like, ?Wow, this is amazing!? Like Starbucks Ice Frappuchino, or Halo for the X-Box, or The Tribe?s new album. But then you drink too much of it, play it too much or listen to it too many times and before you know it, the buzz has kind of evaporated so you have to go and look for the next big thing. If only the things in life would keep their ? newness?. Well, one thing you can be sure of is that God stays fresh! The Bible says, ?The unfailing love of the Lord never ends?Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day? (Lamentations 3:22.23 NLT). And because God?s mercies begin afresh each day, your side of the deal is to keep your thanks to him fresh too. You can keep up continual gratitude by looking beyond your blessings to their source, God, the source of unfailing love, great faithfulness, and endless mercy delivered fresh when your eyes open each morning! ?But it?s all started to feel a bit too familiar,? you say. Listen: Even ?If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful?? (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT). Did you get that? Even when you take Him for granted He still remains faithful to you. And for that, you should always find a fresh supply of thanks. STAR OF THE SHOW 28 Jan 2004

When actors and actresses audition for a part, the director conducts what are known as ?call-backs?. At that point the performer either gets the part or it goes to somebody else. Well, God doesn?t need to do auditions and call-backs. That?s because He?s already written a script just for you. Nobody else could possibly fill it or meet the requirements. You?re an ?A-Lister? with an Oscar in being yourself! Even if others were to study you endlessly, they still couldn?t be you. When God says, ?I know you by name and you have found favour with me?, it means He?s already chosen you for a particular role. So be careful about responding to any other call except the one that comes from Him, because good ideas aren?t necessarily God ideas! Since God designed you with all the built-in potential you?ll ever need, you don?t have to compromise your convictions, play games, drop names or do special favours. There is a special part on the great stage of life and that part is yours because you were born for it! That also means you need never be jealous of or intimidated by anybody else, no matter how talented or popular they are. In God?s eyes there are no other contenders. You?re it! You?re the only one who can fill the slot, because He created it with you in mind. You really are a star! INTO THE SPOTLIGHT 29 Jan 2004

December 1st 1955. A woman called Rosa Parks suddenly became one of the most talked about people on the face of the planet. Why? Because as a black citizen, the law stated that the front seats of the bus should be reserved for white people only, and Rosa refused to surrender her seat and move to the back of the bus. There was more at stake here than just a ride home from work. It was a moment in time and change was in the air. Rosa Parks suddenly moved to centre stage becoming a symbol of the injustices of American racial segregation. She wasn?t playing games. The events that followed were some of the most dramatic and important transformations of the 20th Century. She was the real thing and God shone a light on her soul that day which made history. That?s how it works: when His light shines on your efforts, little becomes much. Moments will come for you to stride confidently into the spotlight and fulfil your God-given role, so try to remember that there?s no room for self-importance and pretence. Recognise God?s hand of grace on your life and let it be known that God is true to His promises. CITIZENS 30 Jan 2004

God has provision for whatever you?re facing today, so ask for it! You can?t fight today?s battles on the strength of yesterday?s bread. That was then, this is now. In the wilderness old Moses and the gang were only permitted to collect enough manna for each day. If they collected more, it rotted. It?s fine to talk about what God did yesterday or what He?s going to do tomorrow, but all you?ve got is today. ?Give us today?. As you digest what God has provided for you today, you will be able to stand up to the challenges you?re facing. This prayer is an expression of faith. The very fact that you ask, means you?re confident that God?s got what you need, and cares enough to provide for you. It also

says, ?I don?t need to go to anybody else except You?. So switch the mobile to silent, flick off the TV, shut the door, get down on your knees before your Heavenly Father and pray, ?Give me what I need for this day?. God knows what you need ? more than you do! As you chew on what He provides for you each day, you?ll start getting stronger and stronger. By the way, when people start getting on your nerves for no apparent reason, or you start having all sorts of mood swings, it?s probably because you?re not eating right and I?m not talking about Big Macs! If that rings any bells, go back to God and pray, ?Give me today my daily bread?. How 2 4give 31 Jan 2004

What do you do when someone has hurt you, and you?ve done the right thing and forgiven them, but you still feel pants? Sound familiar? Did you know you can make the right decision and still have the wrong feelings? This is when you need faith to carry you through. You?ve done your part, now you?re waiting on God to do His part, which is heal your emotions and make you feel whole again. Only God has the power to change your feelings toward the one who hurt you, and He will. Have you completed the process? Once you?ve made a decision to forgive, is your job finished? No, listen: ?bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you? (Luke 6:28 NCV). Bless them? Yeah! And that word bless, actually means ?to speak well of?. Ouch! You?re extending mercy to those who don?t deserve it! But isn?t that what God does for you? The truth is, you cannot truly forgive without the Holy Spirit?s help. None of us can. So today why don?t you pray, ?Holy Spirit, fill me and give me strength. I forgive ___________ [name] for what they did. I?m letting go and I ask You to bless them. I turn the situation over to You. I trust You to heal my emotions. Help me, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.? Now, by faith, leave it all in your Father?s hands!

2 die 4 for Jesus?


01 Feb 2004


Who is being talked about in today?s headline verse? People who?ve given their lives for Jesus, whose testimony held on in the fiercest trials. Try measuring yourself by that standard! ?Are you trying to make me feel bad?? you say. No, just: 1) More grateful. ?Grateful for what?? That your faith and your testimony are so threatening to the enemy, that you?re on his hit-list. The more focused the disciple, the more crafty the devil?s distractions must be. 2) More prayerful. Listen: ?Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering? (Hebrews 13:3 ). ?But what does that verse mean to me?? you ask. Well, next time you trap your finger in the door and your whole body aches, think about it and you?ll get the answer ? and it will remind you to pray for the great big world-wide body of believers, because loads of your brothers and sisters are being persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and killed just for loving Jesus. 3) More faithful. Michael Tait from DC Talk wrote in the book ?Jesus Freaks?: ?Our mission may not involve hanging on a cross, being jailed or being burned at the stake? we must put our selfish ways to death and march to a different beat. Then the world will see Jesus.? The issue is, if you?re not willing to die for Him, what are the chances that you?ll actually live for Him? Into your promised land 02 Feb 2004

Joshua had tasted the fruit of the Promised Land, but he had to wait for years before it became his home. Why? Because certain things had to happen first: 1) Moses had to die! Moses represented the old system. It was good for then, but not for now! When you align yourself with what was, instead of what is, you?re not ready yet. The past gets tangled up with systems and traditions, so when God says it?s time to move, you have to try to untie the knot first. In order to reach your destiny, listen for God?s new instructions, new insights and new plan for your life. It?s interesting that the Israelites mourned Moses? death, but they didn?t see him die. His body was never found. They had to let go of him in their hearts before they could move forward. 2) Every doubter had to be buried. There were lots and lots of people around Joshua telling him it couldn?t be done, and he had to wait until everyone of them died in the wilderness. And every voice of doubt that?s holding you back has got to die and be buried too; including the voice of your low self-esteem, your childhood fears, your unanswered questions, even your need to look cool! Imagine yourself putting them in a box, burying it, standing on top of it and saying, ?Ashes to ashes and dust to dust!? Only when you?ve taken those 2 steps are you ready to enter your Promised Land. Chew on that! No short cuts 03 Feb 2004


Jesus said we?d have problems (John 16:33). There are no short cuts. Solve one problem and another?s waiting to take its place. They?re not all big, but they?re all necessary to your spiritual growth! How do you measure the strength of anything? By testing it! Listen: ??don?t be?shocked that you are going through testing?It will prepare you?? (1 Peter 4:12-13 CEV). David wrote: ?The Lord is close to the broken-hearted?? (Psalm 34:18 NLT). Your most life-changing experiences might well come during your darkest days ? when your heart?s broken, you feel abandoned, you?re out of options, your mates have vanished and you turn to God. That?s when you learn to pray heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers. A few minutes rattling off the regular lines transforms into hours of reaching for the Saviour. God could have kept Joseph out of jail, Daniel out of the lions? den, Jeremiah out of the slimy pit and Paul from being shipwrecked, but He didn?t. And the result? Everyone of them was drawn closer to God ? and impacted their world! Our problems force us to look to God and depend on Him, instead of ourselves. This is pretty tough on super-achievers like Paul. Listen: ?We? saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us? (2 Corinthians 1:9 TLB). You?ll never know that God?s all you need, until God?s all you?ve got! So today, place all your needs into His loving arms, and let his smile give you hope for the future. The main thing! 04 Feb 2004

As the New Testament church grew it became impossible for the Apostles to juggle all the balls. Because of this rapid growth the Apostles found themselves in the food service business! And they weren?t very good at it either! Strife and division threatened the church because Jewish widows were being given special treatment over Greek ones. It was time to get some help. Listen: ??choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them? (Acts 6:3). And what was the result of that decision: a) the problem was solved and the needy were cared for b) the Word of God spread and the number of disciples increased rapidly c) key leaders in the city of Jerusalem were won to Christ. Only when the Apostles gave the job away and got back to what they were called to do, did things start to go right. John Maxwell who writes lots of books on leadership says, ?You are most valuable where you add the most value. It?s vital to your success that you discover that narrow area of responsibility where you add the most value ? and stay there.? Take a moment. To think about where you are most valuable consider this question. ?What would it ? not be right? for me to do?? Either give it away or scrap it entirely, but whatever you do, start making the main thing ? the main thing. Okay? Do U know what?s in U? 05 Feb 2004

There are words in your Bible full of life and power. God can show you words that go back into your past and heal your yesterday, secure your today, and anchor your tomorrow. That?s why its so important not to clutter your life with so much junk that you don?t have time for God?s Word. Without the light of the Word how will you see the ?God? potential that?s hidden within you. Before Jeremiah became a major prophet God told him: a) ?Before I formed you in the womb I knew you?? (Jeremiah 1:5). His parents didn?t get the first look at him, God did. Same goes for you. Nothing about you surprises Him. Whatever you?ve been through, He hasn?t changed His mind about who you are or what you?re destined to become. b) ??before you were born I set you apart?? (Jeremiah 1:5). Stop looking for acceptance in places where you don?t belong! You?re on a mission from God. That?s why the enemy has tried so hard to take you out. Once you understand that, your struggles will begin to make sense. So get into God?s Word today and begin to sense the awesome, mind-renewing, thirstquenching, life-changing potential that was deposited within you from before the foundations of the world! Listen to how the Street Bible puts it: ?God?s always?blowing our tiny little minds by setting off his supernatural power inside us? (Ephesians 3:20). Keep on keeping on 06 Feb 2004

Most of us underestimate the time it takes to achieve anything of lasting value; there?s no overnight success. Take David Beckham, Alex Ferguson sent him off to Preston North End to grow up before giving him a permanent place in the M.U. first team. And what about Jennifer Lopez? She had to make do with bit-parts in other people?s videos before she made her own name. Cutting corners won?t do you any favours. The way to any breakthrough is to keep believing and keep going. Albert Grey says, ? Successful people are successful because they do things that failures don?t like to do?. If you find yourself continually giving in to your moods and impulses don?t just keep crashing on, stop. Now check this out: ?Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed? (Proverbs 15:22). Can

you see anyone around who could help you with a bit of accountability? A smart friend will keep you on track like nothing else. Once your new network is in place, move forward again ? staying in regular contact. Life is a team sport that?s often enjoyable but sometimes pretty hard too. Are you willing to confront discomfort, distractions, fear, and put them behind you? R H Macy, founder of the flashy Macy?s Department Store in New York, failed at 5 different professions ? whaler, retailer, gold-miner, stockbroker, estate agent ? before he finally succeeded. He kept going. That?s what separates those who achieve, from those who merely dream! Be kind! 07 Feb 2004

Lots of conflicts are caused not by huge differences of opinion, but by simple lack of understanding. So why aren?t we more understanding? 1) Self-centeredness. Someone has remarked: ?There are two sides to every question ? as long as it doesn?t concern us personally?. We grow up learning to put ourselves first. Ever play with a 2-year-old? They choose the best toys for themselves and always insist on having their own way. When we grow up, our toys just cost more! 2) Failure to appreciate differences. Two common problems are ?gift-envy? and ?gift-projection?. One happens when we compare our gifts with others and feel ?less than?. The other happens when we expect everybody else to feel equally passionate about what we?re called to do. It takes more than one colour to make a rainbow. When you learn to appreciate the differences in people, you?ll discover we all share the same hopes and fears. We need each other more than we know. 3) Fear. Top Quaker William Penn said, ? Never despise what you don?t understand?. Chew on that! Either you open your mind to a new idea and grow, or you reject it and stay the same size. It?s a bit scary when you don?t understand, much easier to join the crowd ? who told Columbus the earth was flat and that he?d fall off the end! 50 years ago, US President, Harry Truman said, ?When we understand the other fellow?s viewpoint and what he?s trying to do, 9 times out of 10 he?s just trying to do right?. Ready, aim, serve?(1) 08 Feb 2004

Service begins in your mind! Listen: ?Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who? made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant?? (Philippians 2:5-7). Are you living a selfservice life, or are you serving others? You can?t do both. God is always more interested in your attitude than your achievements. King Amaziah lost God?s favour because, ?He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a true heart? (2 Chronicles 25:2 NRS). True servants are sorted in the attitude department. For the next few days we?ll check out how and why. True servants focus on others, not themselves! Real humility is not thinking less of yourself ? but thinking of yourself less. A lot of what we do is just bling-bling. We serve to be seen, or to earn points in people?s books. Some of what we do is manipulation, not ministry; we can slip up and start thinking about ourselves and how wonderful we are. And while we?re being honest, have you ever used serving as a bargaining tool, ? God, I?ll do this for You, if You?ll do that for me.? True servants don?t use God for their purposes, they let God use them for His. Let?s pause for today on this final thought: You can measure your servant?s heart by how you respond to how others treat you! How do you react when you feel taken for granted, bossed around or patronised? Jesus said, ??if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life? (Matthew 5:41 TM). Ready, aim, serve (2) 09 Feb 2004

Serving isn?t just about what you do with your time, it also includes what you do with your money. Listen: ??he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas [gold coins]. ?Put this money to work,? he said, ?until I come back?? (Luke 19:13). Then we read: ??he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money?to find out what they had gained with it? (Luke 19:15). Switched on people have financial goals for their life and use their resources to serve God?s greatest goal for mankind: ??this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world?then the end will come? (Matthew 24:14). ? How will that happen?? you ask. Through the church, in all its diverse and creative expressions: books, Christian broadcasting, local churches, prison ministry, youth ministry, famine relief, and sending out missionaries. Have you checked the price of a round-trip airfare to Asia or Africa lately? Your prayer, ? Lord, meet all my needs,? won?t get the job done! Somebody?s going to have to believe God for more than just their own needs, someone?s got to step out in faith and say, ?Lord, Your kingdom is my first concern. I?ll sign the cheque, You fill in the amount?. One day you?ll see King Jesus face to face and you can say, ?I invested every ounce of energy, every talent, every penny You entrusted to me to fulfil Your purposes in the earth?. Ask God today if there?s anybody He wants to bless through you. Ready, aim, serve? (3) 10 Feb 2004


True servants concentrate on their God-given assignment ? not what somebody else is doing! Competition on God?s team is a no-brainer! Our goal is to make God look good, not ourselves. Listen: ??we will not compare ourselves ?as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do?Each of us is an original? (Galatians 5:26 TM). So stick to what God?s given you and resist the urge to stick your nose in other people?s business. There?s no need, you?ll just get wound up. True servants don?t complain of unfairness, don?t have pity-parties and don?t resent those not serving in the same way. They just trust God and keep at it. Since when did you become the expert? Listen: ?Who are you to judge someone else?s servant?? (Romans 14:4). God determines who?s successful, not you! And it goes one step further too. It?s not your job to defend yourself against criticism. Let God handle it! Nehemiah?s response to his critics is a classic: ?? ?My work is too important to stop now and?visit with you?? (Nehemiah 6:3 CEV). One of the most beautiful acts of love shown to Jesus was criticised by His own disciples. When Mary took the most valuable thing she owned, expensive perfume, and poured it over Jesus, they called it ?a waste?. But Jesus called it, ?a beautiful thing? (Matthew 26:10). There?s only one opinion that matters ? His! Remember that today. Ready, aim, serve? (4) 11 Feb 2004

If your sense of self worth is based on anything other than God?s approval, you?re gonna struggle to serve with the right motives. True servants accept jobs that insecure people consider ?beneath them?. Remember Jesus washing the feet of His disciples? Could you see yourself doing that? Insecure people always worry about how they look, so they hide their weaknesses beneath layers of protection. Getting involved in simple acts of kindness will enable the real you to shine through. Henri Nouwen, a holy dude, said: ?we have to give up measuring our meaning and value by the yardstick of others?? Your service should not be based on the response of those you?re serving. They might be really grateful and make a big fuss, or you might get totally blanked. It doesn?t matter. God sees it all. You won?t find true servants covering their walls with plaques or certificates either. Paul writes, ?You may brag about yourself, but the only approval that counts is the Lord?s approval?. Knowing God, that?s the point. So there?s no need to ?name-drop?. Think about James, the brother of Jesus. What a story; growing up with JC! Yet he just called himself ?a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ? (see James 1:1). Your service to Christ isn?t an obligation or a job, it?s a joy. So: ?Serve the Lord with gladness! ? (Psalm 100:2 Amp). Can you imagine what would happen if even 10 percent of Christians got serious about their role as true servants? WOW! Show me the money! 12 Feb 2004

The young guy who asked this question had a lot going for him. He was flash, probably wore a Calvin Klein loin cloth and drove a fuel injected camel! ??what must I do to inherit eternal life?? He enquired. You kinda get the feeling that he thought he could get eternal life the way he?d got everything else in life ? by self-effort. So when Jesus replied, ??sell all that you possess? he became very sad, for he was extremely rich? (Luke 18:22-23 NAS). If he was expecting to buy his way into heaven, he was wrong. The apostle Paul says, ??what the law was powerless to do?God did by sending his own Son?? (Romans 8:3). God would have to be really mean to sell salvation just to those who can afford it! Even then, how could any of us, even Bill Gates, possibly pay the price? Just as you wouldn?t impress the space-shuttle crew with your paper aeroplane, or you wouldn?t display your crayon sketches before Picasso, nothing you can do will qualify you for heaven. Eternal life costs more than you can afford. That?s why the only CV you need is Christ?s Victory! Money wasn?t this man?s problem, selfsufficiency was. It wasn?t his big income, it was his big ego! And it?s not just the wealthy who have difficulty grasping this; so do the educated, the strong, the good-looking, the popular, even the religious. To receive salvation you must first declare that you?re spiritually bankrupt; that your cupboard is bare, your reputation worthless, and your options gone. You can?t approach God demanding justice ? you can only come pleading mercy. So come to Him today! It?s a process 13 Feb 2004

Whenever you accept Christ, He begins changing you from the inside out.. The Holy Spirit does the initial work and then undertakes the transformation process. It doesn?t happen overnight; it takes time. Certain experiences in your past can slow you down and keep you bound. When Jesus stood at His friend?s grave and shouted, ?Lazarus, come out? (see v43), his friend who?d been dead for 4 days shuffled out, still bound from head to toe like a mummy. His old grave clothes which were a major hindrance to him, didn?t just fall off the minute Jesus called him. No, Jesus told his friends ?Unwrap

him and let him go?, and with their help Lazarus was free to enjoy an extended life. The Bible says, ?? anyone?in Christ?is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!? (2 Corinthians 5:17). When Jesus saves you, the first job is to get rid of grave clothes of your past. That means a) negative influences and thought patterns b) low self-esteem c) old addictions and habits d) destructive relationships. Be ready to welcome those God sends to love you, unwrap you and encourage you into your potential. It?s important that you recognise these special people and build your life alongside them. The right people will help you to develop an intimate relationship with God through prayer and Bible reading. Through His Word you get an accurate picture of how He sees you. Through prayer you get to know His heart and start seeing yourself through His eyes. When that happens, you?ll find it hard to believe that you ever wore grave clothes at all. God is love [VALENTINE?S DAY SPECIAL by BLUSH uk] 14 Feb 2004

...Well what does that mean? Is He the one who sends us valentine cards (or forgets to some years!), or does it mean more than that? Is He the one who picks up your smelly socks you need to wear tomorrow and wash them for you? God IS love, therefore He should inspire us to do things we don't always want to do. I, (Lucy), am married to a gorgeous guy I believe is perfect for me, but that doesn't mean he IS perfect!! Can you imagine if I stopped loving him every time he did something annoying or hurtful? I wouldn't love him very much! I can actually get up from a lovely cosy settee with my favourite TV programme on, and go into a cold kitchen to get him a drink, just because I love him. We must understand that to truly love someone, is to love them faults and all. It is to show kindness and encouragement even to those people we may not like. Love is about putting others before yourself not just because God encourages you to, but because you love them enough to believe they need it. It's about realising that it is better to give than receive. Today be challenged to do these 3 things... 1) pray for someone who's been annoying or upsetting you, (it can be liberating!!) 2) tell someone close to you how much you appreciate them, and 3) do something for someone that may mean putting in extra time or effort you don't feel you have. If you love God, His love is in you, so go ahead, make someone's day extra special!! Stay connected 15 Feb 2004

Jesus took His disciples aside to try to get them thinking about life without him around. Listen: ?I am the vine; you are the branches?apart from me you can do nothing...I chose you?to go and bear fruit ? fruit that will last? (John 15: 5&16). Notice: 1) You only understand who you are, in relationship to Christ! He tells them: ?Apart from me you can do nothing?. When you forget that, you end up trying to do things without the God-factor; trying to save people with clever words, or getting your own way through shifty strategies. You?re not blessed in anything you do because of who you are, you?re blessed because of who you?re connected to. Unless you understand that, you?ll waste your time. Your life is in the vine! And if you don?t understand plants very well think about your TV instead ? unless it?s plugged in, it?s useless. 2) Before you get the lasting fruit, you have to lose the fruit that?s temporary! Listen: ??every branch that does bear fruit he prunes?? (John 15:2). You can be a good branch connected to a good vine bearing good fruit, and suddenly God starts trimming back certain things in your life. Things you thought were really great are taken away. Now it feels like you?re going backwards. It takes faith to believe that God would let you to lose what you?re proud of, in order to give you something better ? fruit that remains; enduring success. So the word for you today is, ?Let it go. God has much better in store for you?. Oh crumbs! 16 Feb 2004

As you read your Bible you?ll see that Jesus came out with some pretty far-out stuff! Check out how He deals with this desperate woman: ??Lord?My daughter is suffering terribly? ...He answered, ?I was sent only to?Israel?It is not right to take the children?s bread and toss it to their dogs.? ?Yes, Lord,? she said, ?but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master?s table.? Then Jesus answered, ?Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted??(Matthew 15:22-28 ). Wotz all that about? This woman wasn?t a Jew, she was an outsider, but she pushed through and got what her blessing. Nice one. But talk about hard work! First, Jesus refused to answer her, then He starts going on about bread and dogs! But she was sharp and refused to be shut down, put off, or discouraged. Listen to her: ?Have mercy on me?. She?s not asking for what she deserves, she crying out for what she needs. As a result Jesus took time out from His tightly-focused mission and answered her prayer. Don?t you think we could all learn to be a bit more like that? ?Let the children have the bread, all I need are the crumbs.? Let?s think about that for a minute. It?s easy to neglect the bread of life, waste the bread, complain about the bread, don?t even show up for the bread ? but desperate people pick up

the crumbs and find life! They know that if there?s power in the loaf there?s power in the crumb, and when a crumb from God is all you can get, a crumb is all you need. So, what do you need from Jesus today? How badly do you want it? The Lord?s Prayer (1) 17 Feb 2004

Jesus gives us the lowdown for approaching God. Let?s take a scan at it: 1) ?Our Father in heaven?. You?ve got to put the correct address on the envelope if you want it to reach the right letter box. We don?t just pray to some vague higher power; we approach God on the basis of who He is to us ? ?Our Father!? 2) ?Hallowed be your name?. That statement is a decalaration of His holiness or, put simple: PRAISE. And praise is the pathway into God?s presence. Listen: ?Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise? (Psalm 100:4). You must never let anything or anyone stop you from praising God. 3) ?Your kingdom come?. Those words mean, ?I want to make you the number one priority in every area of my life. Be Lord of my relationships, my pastimes, my speech, my thought life and my dreams?. 4) ?Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven?. Is anyone in heaven fearful or doubting? Stubborn or disobedient? Critical or negative? The words, ?Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven?, mean that when the devil fires something at your mind that?s anti-God, like words, attitudes or fears - rise up in Christ?s name and announce, ?If it?s not approved in heaven, it will have no place in my life here on earth?. The one thing the devil hopes you never discover, is that you have the God-given authority to restrict his movements around your life. Too late, the secret?s out, he?s stuffed. The Lord?s Prayer (2)

18 Feb 2004

God has provision for whatever you?re facing today, so ask for it! You can?t fight today?s battles on the strength of yesterday?s bread. That was then, this is now. In the wilderness old Moses and the gang were only permitted to collect enough manna for each day. If they collected more, it rotted. It?s fine to talk about what God did yesterday or what He?s going to do tomorrow, but all you?ve got is today. ?Give us today?. As you digest what God has provided for you today, you will be able to stand up to the challenges you?re facing. This prayer is an expression of faith. The very fact that you ask, means you?re confident that God?s got what you need, and cares enough to provide for you. It also says, ?I don?t need to go to anybody else except You?. So switch the mobile to silent, flick off the TV, shut the door, get down on your knees before your Heavenly Father and pray, ?Give me what I need for this day?. God knows what you need ? more than you do! As you chew on what He provides for you each day, you?ll start getting stronger and stronger. By the way, when people start getting on your nerves for no apparent reason, or you start having all sorts of mood swings, it?s probably because you?re not eating right and I?m not talking about Big Macs! If that rings any bells, go back to God and pray, ?Give me today my daily bread?. How 2 4give 19 Feb 2004

What do you do when someone has hurt you, and you?ve done the right thing and forgiven them, but you still feel pants? Sound familiar? Did you know you can make the right decision and still have the wrong feelings? This is when you need faith to carry you through. You?ve done your part, now you?re waiting on God to do His part, which is heal your emotions and make you feel whole again. Only God has the power to change your feelings toward the one who hurt you, and He will. Have you completed the process? Once you?ve made a decision to forgive, is your job finished? No, listen: ?bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you? (Luke 6:28 NCV). Bless them? Yeah! And that word bless, actually means ?to speak well of?. Ouch! You?re extending mercy to those who don?t deserve it! But isn?t that what God does for you? The truth is, you cannot truly forgive without the Holy Spirit?s help. None of us can. So today why don?t you pray, ?Holy Spirit, fill me and give me strength. I forgive ___________ [name] for what they did. I?m letting go and I ask You to bless them. I turn the situation over to You. I trust You to heal my emotions. Help me, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.? Now, by faith, leave it all in your Father?s hands! 2 die 4 for Jesus? 20 Feb 2004

Who is being talked about in today?s headline verse? People who?ve given their lives for Jesus, whose testimony held on in the fiercest trials. Try measuring yourself by that standard! ?Are you trying to make me feel bad?? you say. No, just: 1) More grateful. ?Grateful for what?? That your faith and

your testimony are so threatening to the enemy, that you?re on his hit-list. The more focused the disciple, the more crafty the devil?s distractions must be. 2) More prayerful. Listen: ?Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering? (Hebrews 13:3 ). ?But what does that verse mean to me?? you ask. Well, next time you trap your finger in the door and your whole body aches, think about it and you?ll get the answer ? and it will remind you to pray for the great big world-wide body of believers, because loads of your brothers and sisters are being persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and killed just for loving Jesus. 3) More faithful. Michael Tait from DC Talk wrote in the book ?Jesus Freaks?: ?Our mission may not involve hanging on a cross, being jailed or being burned at the stake? we must put our selfish ways to death and march to a different beat. Then the world will see Jesus.? The issue is, if you?re not willing to die for Him, what are the chances that you?ll actually live for Him? Profile: Intercessor 21 Feb 2004

Today we?re gonna put the spotlight on a special bunch of people. What?s special about them? Man, do they know how to pray!!! Behind every great spiritual awakening, the kind that radically changes people and shakes up communities, there?s an unseen, unstoppable force known as ?intercessors?. Many of the victories we celebrate in the open, were first won in the secret place of prayer by these intercessors! It?s their specialised ministry. And God could be calling you to be one of them! You see prayer isn?t just about you, it?s about the world out there. Through prayer Christians can limit Satan?s movements and defeat his best-laid strategies. ?How?? you ask. By calling the forces of heaven into any situation, anywhere, anytime, for anybody. Check out these 2 verses: a) ?If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours? (Psalm 2:8 NCV). It?s time to move beyond your ?bless me? prayers, and begin to touch nations! What you prayerfully declare on earth, (as long as it lines up with His word), God will authorise in heaven. b) ???The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field?? (Matthew 9:37-38 ). It works like this: your prayers reach God. God touches people. People move nations. Nations are changed. The whole thing begins with one praying person ? an intercessor ? today let that praying person be you. U R no accident! 22 Feb 2004

You?re breathing at this very moment because God planned it! There are illegitimate parents, but no illegitimate children. God?s purposes override human error. He never does anything accidentally. Listen: ?Long before he laid down earth?s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love? (Ephesians 1:4 TM). God made you so that He could love you! That?s a truth you can build your life on! God was thinking of you before He made the world. In fact, you?re why He made it. He designed the exact environment you could thrive in. You?re the focus of His love and the most valuable of all His creation. Listen: ?God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made? (James 1:18 NCV). Next time you suffer from rejection or an attack of low self-esteem, remind yourself, ?I?m the object of God?s love and the most important of all the things He made.? God made you for a reason. Your life has deep meaning! But you only discover that meaning, when you make Jesus the centre of your life. Listen: ??The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us?? (Romans 12:3 TM). So put this magazine down, close your eyes and visualise the final moment when everything that ever bothered you will make sense ? when Jesus welcomes you into the throne room and gives you a perfectly fitted crown that?s been waiting for you for eternity! Your mission (1) 23 Feb 2004

We each have different gifts, but God has given us all the same mission: ??go and make disciples?? That?s the great commission, not the great suggestion! And it?s not just for pastors and missionaries, it?s for you! Yes you! It?s not an optional extra; it?s not just for super-advanced Christians. Listen: ?? you must warn them so they may live. If you don?t?they will die in their sin?? (Ezekiel 3:18 NCV). This job is urgent! ?But I?m not good with words,? you say. So what? Why not just start with your own story? What was life like before you met Jesus? What convinced you that He?s real? How have you changed? What?s He done for you lately? So many people just don?t even know that a relationship with God is possible. Now here?s a tip before you trip: don?t forget how hopeless it felt to be without Christ. Don?t mix so much with church folks that you forget how to communicate with non-church folks. No matter how much of a good time your non-Christian mates appear to be having, without Christ they?re empty and lost ? eternally lost! You are the only Christian somebody knows; there is someone

that only you can reach because of how God has made you. If just that one person is in heaven because of you, won?t that still be amazing! So, start looking around at your personal mission field and begin to pray, ?God, who have You put in my life today, that needs to know about Jesus?? Your mission (2) 24 Feb 2004

In the last few years there?s been a lot of interest in the Second Coming of Christ. All sorts of books and videos have come out with all kinds of wacky ideas. It?s really easy to get confused! But you know, before He ascended, Jesus? disciples asked Him about it. His response? ??It is not for you to know the times or dates?But you will receive power?and you will be my witnesses?? (Acts 1:7-8). When the disciples wanted to talk about the finish line, Jesus focused the conversation on the race itself. On another occasion He told them, ?The exact timing?s kept absolute top secret. The angels have no idea. Even I?ve not been told. Dad?s the only one who knows when. So don?t drift off. Keep on the ball? (Mark 13:32-33 Street). Now if Jesus didn?t know the day of His return, why are you trying to figure it out? What we do know for sure is: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the good news, has heard it. So if you want Jesus to come back sooner, get busy and start reaching people for him. Evangelism isn?t something you do. No, it should be your way of life! Instead of praying, ?God I want You to bless what I do,? it?s time to start praying, ?God help me to do what You? re blessing?. God will do all He can to help those committed to bringing others into His family! Out of the hole 25 Feb 2004

On the front of your face, above your chin and below your nose you have a hole! You decide when to open it and when to keep it closed. Things go in it, more often for some people than others ? and things come out of it, again more often for some people than others. Today we?re not so bothered about what goes in that hole ? but what comes out, and no, we?re not talking about puke, we?re talking about words! Did you know that Jesus said, ??I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken?? (Matthew 12:36) What?s coming out of your mouth these days ? judgement and criticism or encouragement and positivity? In her book ?A Closer Walk? Catherine Marshall writes, ?One morning I asked God to give me an assignment for one day. I was going to go on a ?fast? from criticism. I was not going to criticise anybody or anything. For the first half of the day I was completely void, almost as if I?d been wiped out as a person... But still I didn?t see what this ?fast from criticism? was accomplishing ? until mid-afternoon... Ideas began to come to me in a way I hadn?t experienced for years. Now it was apparent what God wanted me to see. My critical nature had not solved one of the multitudinous things I had found fault with. What it had done was to stifle my own creativity.? Listen, ?Words kill, words give life... you choose? (Proverbs 18:21TM). Be careful what you let escape out of that hole today! Vision 26 Feb 2004

The most frequent miracle Jesus performed was opening blind eyes. In one case He touched a blind man who exclaimed, ?I see men like trees, walking? (Mark 8:24 NKJ). In other words, ?I?m better than I was. I can see something, but I can?t quite discern what it is.? So Jesus touched him again, clearing his vision totally, removing his limitations, setting him free to become the man God called him to be. There?s a lesson here for you. Without a vision for your life you?ll stumble around blind to: a) who God is, and what He can do b) who you are, and what you can accomplish in His strength. What do you see? Over 100 years ago Thomas Edison saw electrical light before the first bulb ever glowed. 30 years ago Bill Gates saw a computer in every office and home even while experts were announcing, ? Not in our lifetime?. God can be bringing all sorts of opportunities to you, yet you don?t see them because your spiritual eyes are still cloudy. Remember the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus? It was only after Jesus had walked with them for 7 miles, explaining the Scriptures to them, that we read: ? Their eyes were opened and they recognised him? (Luke 24:31). How does God reveal Himself to us? In cathedrals or conferences? Sometimes. But mostly He opens His word and our understanding, and we begin to see Him at work in a way we never have before. So take a moment today and pray, ?Open my eyes that I may see?. Watch you don?t trip 27 Feb 2004

Here are 3 things to look for as you run this race of faith, watch your step, you don?t want to end up face down in the gravel. 1) An unforgiven offence. Jesus said, ??if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your father in heaven will also forgive your sins? (Mark 11:25 NCV). Forgiving others isn?t an option ? it?s an order! When the mention of somebody?s name makes all your nerves go on edge,

pray for them. Say, ?Father, I forgive them as You?ve forgiven me. Whatever I ask for myself in blessing, I ask for them too?. You can do it! Please don?t retaliate or deny God the right to deal with the situation His way. You?ve received mercy - pass it on! 2) An unwise relationship. Paul said, ?Bad friends will ruin good habits? (see 1 Corinthians 15:33 NCV). The right mates will push you higher. The wrong mates will drag you lower. You choose the level you want to live at when you when you choose your mates. Yeah, it sounds tough and you?re right somebody does need to reach them, but not at the cost of your own destiny. Start becoming more selective! 3) An uncommitted heart. Some people don?t trip, they just get bored and quit before the end, their heart?s not in it. Paul said, ?I?m not saying that I have this all together ?but I?ve got my eye on the goal? (Philippians 3:13-14 TM paraphrased). A committed heart is the result of a made-up mind! That explains why certain people stand out from the crowd. Make that commitment today ? ?I?m going all the way!? Hope 28 Feb 2004

Do you ever ?people watch?? So many people hassled and stressed, weary and lonely. No life in their eyes, no music in their voice. They?re like mannequins, all dressed up but what for? That?s life without hope. Hope isn?t a million to one, like winning the lottery. No, it?s sure every time ??an anchor for the soul?? (Hebrews 6:19). God will do what He?s promised! Listen: ?Let?s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word? (Hebrews 10:23 TM). What keeps us going? God?s promises!? Nobody knew this better than David; he?d had lots of reasons to lose hope. After God anointed him to be King, he waited 7 more years while a paranoid leader occupied the throne. He had to run for his life and hide in caves, forests and deserts. He saw the devastation of war, friends killed and his family taken captive. Listen: ?My foes taunt me, saying???Where is your God??? (Psalm 42:10). Faced with problems that would wipe most of us out, David still said, ??You are my hope?? (Psalm 71:5 NKJ); ??I hope in Your word? (Psalm 119:147 NKJ). You can?t lose with an attitude like that! David became Israel?s greatest king because he never lost his hope in God: it kept him focused; it kept him on top; it kept him going! So, ?Let us hold firmly to?hope?? (Hebrews 10:23 NCV). Why? Because God will keep every promise He?s made to you! The Rock 29 Feb 2004

The stories of the Bible take place in lots of different landscapes. There?s the garden of Eden, the great kingdom of Egypt, the markets and streets of Jerusalem, the shoreline of Galilee and the mountain wilderness of Sinai. God shows that He is not limited to geographical space, He doesn?t have ?favourite hang-outs?, He will make Himself known anytime, anywhere. Moses had an amazing encounter with God up on the rocky peaks of Mount Sinai. God?s presence was so awesome that God needed to tuck Moses into a crack in the rock so that he didn?t get blessed to death! David used to love the rocky mountains too. He saw in their permanence and invincibility something of the character of God, many times in his Psalms he says ?He is my Rock?. Many times he had known the protection of the mountains, there were so many clever hiding places that his enemies could never track him down. The Apostle Paul understood this too ? he told the Colossian Christians ?Your life is hidden with Christ in God?. So when you think of God as your rock, don?t be thinking about some little hump by the seaside that the waves comes crashing over, where you?re exposed and vulnerable. No way. Think about great big craggy mountains like the Himalayas, permanent and invincible. Listen: ??I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I? a strong tower against the foe? (Psalm 61:2-3).