Soulfood: Lev 8-10, Luke 1:39-56, Ps 42:1-5, Prov 1:20-23
'You cannot handle it alone.' Exodus 18:18 NIV
President Theodore Roosevelt once said, 'The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.' Bottom line: Unless you learn to delegate, your leadership will deteriorate and your vision will stagnate.
In Exodus, Moses was wearing himself out physically, emotionally and spiritually trying to keep up with the demands of two million Israelites and be 'the answer man' for every problem. That's when his father-in-law told him, 'You cannot handle it alone. Listen...to me and I will give you some advice' (Exodus 18:18-19 NIV). It takes wisdom, maturity, and humility to ask for help. And it's a sign of strength, not weakness. That's hard to come to terms with, for those of us who take pride in our ability to 'do it all.' The truth is, what Moses was doing was neither good for him nor the people depending on him. As a leader, it's easy to overestimate your own importance and competence. That's why Paul cautions, '[Don't] think you are better than you really are. Use good sense' (Romans 12:3 CEV).
God has placed people around you who have certain gifts and talents. When you recognise and involve these people, they're fulfilled and the job gets done right. God created us to be interdependent, not independent. Delegating authority to the right people strengthened Moses for the task of leading as God intended. When you try to be 'all things to all people,' you end up frustrated. You're not called to do it all, but to get it done through others. That's what leadership is about.
Soulfood: Is 4-7, John 5:1-15, Ps 126, Prov 27:17-19
'I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord." And you forgave me!' Psalm 32:5 NLT
When you deliberately sin, you're rebelling against God's rule in your life - and you'll feel bad about it. And feeling bad is evidence that you truly are a redeemed child of God; otherwise your sin wouldn't bother you. Picture a teenager saying to his dad, 'I'm truly sorry, but I took your credit card and bought beer for my buddies with it.' Now, the chances are his father may never have discovered it, especially if he wasn't a good bookkeeper. But his son's troubled conscience brought it to the surface and he said, 'Dad, I shouldn't have bought the beer; I shouldn't have lied about my age; I shouldn't have used your credit card to do it. You trusted me and I let you down. I'm sorry, and I won't do it again.' That's confession. That's what we must do in our prayers.
The Greek word translated as confession means 'to agree with God.' When we confess our sins, we are agreeing with God concerning the sin in our lives as revealed through his Word and by the Holy Spirit. When we confess, we verbalise our sin and receive cleansing and forgiveness. Yes, confession is often painful, but it keeps our fellowship with our heavenly Father clear, open and close. It's not that God stops loving us, but that we no longer feel we can approach him with confidence.
Do you have a sin to confess? 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
Soulfood: Is 1-3, John 4:39-54, Ps 5, Prov 27:13-16
'You don't love me...as you did at first!' Revelation 2:4 NLT
Love is like a fire; when it's not fueled, it goes out. That's what happened to the Christians in the church at Ephesus. In earlier years Paul wrote these words to them: 'Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love' (Ephesians 6:24 NAS). Their love for the Lord was so strong and so evident to all, that Paul commended them for it. But by the time Christ speaks to the same church in the book of Revelation, their love for him had waned: 'I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and patient endurance. I know you don't tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don't love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me' (Revelation 2:2-5 NLT).
Evangelical leader John Stott wrote: 'They'd fallen from the early heights of devotion to Christ which they'd climbed. They'd descended to the plains of mediocrity. In a word...the hearts of the Ephesian Christians had chilled. Their first flush of ecstasy had passed. Their early devotion to Christ had cooled. They'd been in love with him, but...had fallen out of love.'
You can go to church, read your Bible, and pray every day, yet not love God as you should. Loving God is a commitment and a heart attitude that results in obedience. It's a focus: a daily decision to honour him in all you say and do. So, has your love grown cold?
Soulfood: Ex 39-40, John 4:27-38, Ps 15, Prov 27:10-12
'If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.' 1 John 5:14 NIV
Once upon a time three men were marooned on a desert island with little hope of being rescued. One day they were walking around the island when one of them picked up an old, tarnished lamp. When he rubbed it, a genie appeared and offered to grant each man one wish. The first man said, 'I wish I was back in my office in Boston.' Puff! He was there. The second said, 'I wish I was home with my family in London.' Puff! He was there. The third man looked around and said, 'It's so lonely here, I wish my friends were back with me.' The problem with wishing is that genies and magic lamps don't exist.But God does exist! And since he is in control of your life and he's more powerful than any genie, when your wishes become prayers that line up with his will, they can become a reality. 'Does the Bible teach that?' you ask. Yes; it says: 'This is the confidence we have in approaching God...if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him' (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). But even when your wish is in line with God's will, you need one more thing - faith. Faith does two things: (a) It opens your eyes to see that God's promises are for you personally. (b) It acts like a magnet, drawing the fulfillment of his promise into your life.So, what are you wishing for? If it's God's will - you can have it.
Soulfood: Ex 36-38, John 4:13-26, Ps 41, Prov 27:7-9
'God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.' Isaiah 12:2 NKJV
How much of a factor is fear in your life? Go ahead, take the fear test. Circle the number that best corresponds to how you feel. (1) I don't remember the last time I was really afraid. (2) I am afraid rarely, and only when I or someone close to me is in physical danger. (3) I am a little more fearful than I'd like to be. (4) Fear is a significant factor in my everyday life. I avoid anything risky or dangerous. (5) I'm afraid of many things on a daily basis, and it changes the way I live my life.
If you circled number one you're an unusual individual who doesn't experience normal fear. You may have to temper your actions with greater discernment and wisdom. If you circled number two, you have a healthy attitude toward fear and you've got a handle on it. You should try to encourage others who have a more difficult time with fear than you do. If you circled number three or four, you're in an excellent position to improve your life by changing your attitude. Begin by identifying the source of your fears, and determining to turn your fear into faith in God (See Romans 10:17). For each area of fear, figure out a positive opposite, and create a plan of action to cultivate that quality. Then focus on what you can control today.
If you circled number five, chances are fear is getting the better of you and you'll have a difficult time overcoming it on your own. So pray and reprogramme your mind with God's Word (see 1 Timothy 1:7). And don't be afraid to seek help from a trusted friend or counselor.
Soulfood: Ex 33-35, John 4:1-12, Ps 87, Prov 27:4-6
'Let the wise listen and add to their learning.' Proverbs 1:5 NIV
In order to keep growing, you must understand three principles: (1) You grow to the extent you give. By giving out, you create more room to grow on the inside. So give until it hurts, and keep giving until it feels good. Always endeavor to leave people better off than you found them, and you'll be better off too. Solomon said, 'The liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself' (Proverbs 11:25 TLB). This epitaph on a tombstone says it all: 'What I gave, I have. What I spent, I had. What I kept, I lost.'
(2) To accomplish more, you've got to grow more. Do you feel stuck spiritually, relationally, career-wise, or at home? You won't get unstuck by making external changes, like pursuing a new career, leaving your family, or changing churches. Nobody's keeping you down but yourself. The lid on your life is - you. So if you're serious about getting unstuck, instead of looking for quick fixes take a long hard look at yourself, accept responsibility for what you see, pray, and decide to do something about it.
(3) It's not enough to dream; you must do. The Tartar tribes of Central Asia are reputed to have used a particular curse against their enemies. They didn't call for their swords to rust or their people to die of disease. They simply said, 'May you stay in one place forever.' If you don't work daily to improve yourself, that will be your fate too. You'll end up stuck in the same place, doing the same things, dreaming the same dreams, and never getting anywhere. So keep growing!
Soulfood: Ex 30-32, John 3:22-36, Ps 32, Prov 27:1-3
'Put on the new self.' Ephesians 4:24 NIV
When you entertain wrong thoughts in the privacy of your mind, you may be tempted to excuse yourself by saying, 'What harm will it do?' More harm than you know! You become what you dwell on. The Bible says, 'Put off your old self...put on the new self' (Ephesians 4:22, 24 NIV). You may not want to admit you're still wearing some of those 'old' clothes (attitudes, pastimes and practices), but the truth is you can't put on your new ones until you take off the old ones. Furthermore, you can't hang your old clothes in the closet for a rainy day, or leave them on the floor to be tripped over. You've got to get rid of them.'Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires...put on the new self, created to be like God...Put off falsehood and speak truthfully...Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up...Do not grieve the Holy Spirit...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you' (Ephesians 4:22-32 NIV).The word for you today is: it's time to take off your old clothes and put on your new ones.
Soulfood: Joel 2:23-32, Acts 2:1-21
'Great peace have those who love your law: and nothing can make them stumble.' Psalm 119:165
Are you easily upset? Even over little things? Spend more time praying and reading your Bible.
The following article turned up in a newspaper: 'A lady took my seat in church. She's very nice...a good friend, in fact. I can sit anyplace; no big deal. My seat's on the right as you enter the sanctuary. I can rest my arm on the end. It's a good seat, but I wouldn't raise a fuss about a seat...never hold a grudge. Actually, it was three months ago she took it and I really don't know why. I've never done anything to her...never taken her seat. I suppose I'll have to come an hour early to get my seat. She took it because it's one of the best seats in the house. She'd no business taking it...and I'm not going to church two hours early to get what's rightfully mine. This is the way social injustices begin: abusive people taking other people's seats. It's the way seeds of revolution are sown. A person can only stand so much. Where's it all going to end? If somebody doesn't stand up and be counted, nobody's seat will be safe. People will sit anywhere they please, and next time they'll take my parking place. World order will be in a shambles!'
We smile, but it's amazing how quickly we get bent out of shape when our little routine is disrupted. Do you know why the Christian life is described as 'the high calling' (Philippians 3:14 KJV)? Because it means taking the high road and serving others, rather than taking the low road and putting ourselves first.
Soulfood: Ex 28-29, John 3:9-21, Ps 100, Prov 26:27-28
'His Word can cut through our spirits.' Hebrews 4:12 CEV
As you read the Bible, God will give you strength and guidance for your life that you simply can't get any other way. Eliphaz said to Job the patriarch: 'He bruises, but he binds up; he wounds, but his hands make whole' (Job 5:18 NKJV). That's what God does to you as you read the Scriptures. 'His Word can cut through our spirits' (Hebrews 4:12 CEV).
Others see what we do, but when we get alone with God and open the Scriptures, he reveals to us what we are. He brings to the surface long-standing and unresolved issues, and helps us to deal with them. He confronts us over our stubborn habits and shows us how to conquer them. He pinpoints our selfish and unloving attitudes, giving us a chance to repent and change our ways. The old Quakers had a saying: 'Sin will keep you from your Bible, and your Bible will keep you from sin.' You say, 'But when I get up in the morning, I'm so busy that I don't have time to read the Bible.' Then read it when you come home at night! You say, 'By the time I get home from work at night, I'm exhausted and can't concentrate on anything!' You must rearrange your priorities. If you spend hours watching television, surely you can spend some time each day reading your Bible. The truth is that we make time for the things that we want, that we value, and that we enjoy.
So ask God to give you a greater appetite for his Word. Then read your Bible, and watch your appetite for it grow!
Soulfood: Ex 25-27, John 3:1-8, Ps 89:38-52, Prov 26:23-26