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How do you affect others? - MONDAY MARCH 27

‘Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.’     Romans 1:12 NCV

We’ve a tendency to adopt the attitudes of the people closest to us. That’s why Paul wrote, ‘Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.’ The truth is that doubters get what they expect - and so do believers! Looking for God’s best in every situation isn’t just scriptural; it helps you identify opportunities you’d otherwise miss. Seeing people through God’s eyes causes them to be attracted to you and open in how they react. Is that important? Absolutely! Why? Because often your attitude will touch them before your message does.

Management consultant Fred Smith points out that there are two kinds of people in any organisation: polluters and purifiers. The polluters are like smokestacks, belching out dirty smoke all the time. They hate clear skies, and no matter how good it gets they find a way to make it gloomy. When the people around them breathe their toxins they feel sicker and sicker. Purifiers, on the other hand, make everything around them better. It doesn’t matter what kind of rotten atmosphere they encounter. They take in the toxic words of polluters just like everyone else does, but they filter them before passing them on. What goes in gloomy and negative comes out fresh and clear.

The question is: when you spend time with people, do they walk away feeling better or worse? Do you clear the air by giving them encouragement and fresh perspective, or do they leave feeling downcast and discouraged? Observe how people respond to you and you’ll know which group you belong to.

A praying mother - SUNDAY MARCH 26 – MOTHERING SUNDAY

‘Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart.’ Luke 2:19 TLB

Max Lucado writes: ‘Some things only a mum can do…like powdering a baby’s bottom with one hand while holding the phone with the other…Spending the day wiping noses, laundering socks, balancing a cheque book, and still mean it when she thanks God for her kids. Some things only a mum can fix…like the cabinet doors her husband couldn’t, and his bruised ego when he found out she could! Broken shoelaces…broken hearts…breaking up with your sweetheart. Some things only a mum can know…like how long it takes to drive from piano lessons to football practice…how many pizzas you need for a sleepover…the number of days left in a term.

The rest of us can only wonder… “Mum, what was it like when that infant’s cry first filled the room? Or the day the school bus pulled to a stop, you placed a kiss on a five-year-old’s cheek, waved goodbye and then saw the tricycle - silent and still? How did you feel? Did you cry? Did you smile?” Were you like Mary who “quietly treasured all these things in her heart?”’ A mother who loves and prays for her children is a force to be reckoned with. When a preacher stopped by a house and asked to speak to the mother, her little boy said, ‘You can’t see her right now, she’s praying.’ That’s because Susanna Wesley spent one hour every day praying for each of her seventeen children. Eventually two of them, John and Charles, were used by God to bring a spiritual awakening to Britain and America and establish the Methodist Church. Such is the influence of a praying mother.

Enjoy each season of your life! - SATURDAY MARCH 25

‘Which yields its fruit in season.’ Psalm 1:3 NIV (2011 Edition)

Your life is lived in seasons, and to be fruitful you must recognise the season you’re in and maximise it. ‘How can I tell when a season is ending?’ you ask. Because the grace that accompanied that season will lift, and what was once rewarding will start to feel unrewarding. The Bible says a successful man or woman is like a tree planted by streams of water ‘which yields its fruit in season’. You can only be fruitful in your season! That’s where blessing and success occur. You can’t just do it whenever you want to; it has to be in your appointed time. When the right season comes, it’s effortless for a tree to produce what’s stored within. And there’s fruit within you that will be produced when you understand what season you’re in. But there are rules for each season; let’s look at them.

Spring - is for training and discipline. That’s when you begin to see God’s purpose for your life and prepare for it. Summer - is for maturing what spring started. The seeds you sowed and nurtured then will grow and multiply now. Autumn - is when you no longer have the passion of youth but the steady calm of the seasoned veteran. If you’re wise, you’re now working smarter instead of harder. It’s time to transition and prepare for the upcoming winter. Winter - is when you assess your accomplishments, enjoy your rewards, pass on your counsel, and take your bows. You have fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished the course (see 2 Timothy 4:7). If you do it right, each season can be the best season of your life!

Teaching children patience (3) - FRIDAY MARCH 24

‘For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.’ Hebrews 10:36 NKJV

Do these three things:

1) Don’t be Mr or Mrs Quick-Fix-It. Your kids need to learn to respond the right way to difficult conditions. That means dealing with frustrations, not being rescued from them. Overprotecting produces a sense of inadequacy and powerlessness in them. By quick-fixing everything, you’ll rear children who cannot handle life. They’ll expect to be rescued from all trouble, and become overly dependent on others. The Bible says, ‘Troubles make us more patient’ (Romans 5:3 ERV). Allow your children to experience age-appropriate challenges, and they will thank you later for the strengths and coping skills they’ve developed.

2) Prepare them to wait. When you know in advance that your child will have to wait (for instance, in a doctor’s office or an airport), help them prepare for it. ‘Make the best use of your time’ (Ephesians 5:16 NLV). Have them pack items they enjoy. Because they chose the items, they’ll feel they invested in the process.

3) Keep a positive attitude. If you constantly complain while waiting in traffic, or for someone who’s late, your children will do the same. Instead, try saying, ‘This delay gives us time to tell each other about our day.’ Or, ‘Even when we feel frustrated about waiting, God’s timing is always perfect!’ Teach them God’s perspective on patience: ‘You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong’ (James 5:7 MSG).

Teaching children patience (2) - THURSDAY MARCH 23

‘Bring forth fruit with patience.’ Luke 8:15 KJV

Here are five more teaching tips:

1) Teach by experiment. Toddlers through ‘tweens’ can appreciate the time it takes a plant to grow, so involve them in planting a seed and watching it grow. Explain how everything in life takes time to change and develop. Teach the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV: ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.’

2) Make use of visuals. Younger children especially need visuals when waiting for an event to happen. If it’s 4:30 and dinner is at 5:00, use a timer. If it’s eighteen days until the family holiday, let them mark the days off on a calendar. Often their problem with waiting is not knowing when it will end.

3) Don’t interrupt and don’t tolerate interruptions. Toddlers to teens - kids interrupt! Adults, too. Interruptions are usually a rude and frustrating display of impatience. Unless it’s an emergency, be clear: Kids - and adults - are to wait their turn to speak. It’s more than good manners - it’s obeying God’s Word. ‘There is…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak’ (vv. 1, 7 NKJV).

4) Make use of board games. Most board games require taking turns, which means waiting. Your kids will hardly realise they’re practising patience! Chess and draughts are good for tweens. Scrabble educates teenagers and teaches them patience.

5) Reward their patience. When your toddler waits for his sippy cup to be filled while you feed the baby, thank him for waiting so well. If your teen saves her money to buy a new phone, compliment her wisdom and reinforce it by perhaps donating the last few pounds to her purchase.