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Use what God has given you - MONDAY APRIL 3

‘She has done what she could.’ Mark 14:8 NKJV

Jesus paid one of His greatest compliments to a woman of the streets who poured costly ointment from an alabaster box onto His head: ‘She has done what she could.’ God requires no more of us, and is worthy of no less. One night in 1837, a woman called Florence heard the voice of God telling her she’d a special mission in life. Nine years later that mission began to take shape when a friend sent her information about an institution in Germany that trained deaconesses, so she went there and learned to care for the sick. In 1853 she became superintendent of a women’s hospital in London.

When the Crimean War broke out in 1854 she volunteered to take care of British soldiers and went to Constantinople. Once in Turkey, she was put in charge of nursing at a military hospital. It was a male-dominated society and the doctors were hostile towards her. The hospital was deplorably filthy, so she dug in her heels and began caring for her patients, at first using the provisions she brought with her and then undertaking a correspondence campaign to resupply the hospital. She spent hours each day in the wards, touching virtually every wounded soldier who entered it. The comfort she gave them on her night rounds earned her the nickname ‘the lady with the lamp’. Who was she? Florence Nightingale. One of her most famous sayings was, ‘I never made an excuse, or accepted an excuse.’ So instead of focusing on the talents and resources you don’t have, use what God has given you.

Peace comes by trusting in Christ - SUNDAY APRIL 2

‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Romans 5:1 KJV

Charles Stanley tells of asking his waitress, ‘If you could ask God for anything, what would that be?’ Instantly she answered, ‘I want to feel at peace.’ Through tears she spoke of painful losses that turned her life into intense emotional turmoil. Many people, like this young woman, want inner peace without a relationship with Jesus, the Prince of Peace. They seek it in ways that don’t work - physical fitness, improving their appearance, financial security, fame, social status, or human relationships. Some seek it in alcohol and drugs. But none of these things can provide peace of heart and mind; only a relationship with Jesus can do that. Before we meet Jesus we are slaves to sin, living in opposition to God (Romans 6:16 NIV). And our sins separate us from God so we live with guilt, stress, and shame. But He has provided a remedy.

‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIVUK 2011 Edition), removing our sin, guilt, and shame, and ending our separation from God. When we trust in Christ as our Saviour He promises, ‘Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1 NIV 2011 Edition). If you have placed your trust in Christ, read this: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand’ (Philippians 4:6-7 TLB).

Pets are a gift from God - SATURDAY APRIL 1

‘The godly care for their animals.’ Proverbs 12:10 NLT

A man wrote to a hotel where he wanted to go for holiday and asked, ‘Could I bring my dog? He’s very well behaved.’ The hotel owner replied, ‘I’ve been operating this hotel for thirty years and in all that time I’ve never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware, or pictures off the walls. I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly, and I’ve never had one run out without paying the bill. Yes, your dog is welcome. And furthermore, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome too.’ Solomon writes, ‘The godly care for their animals.’ Ever consider godliness from that perspective? Maybe you’re thinking, ‘This doesn’t sound too spiritual.’ Think again! ‘Every good gift…is from above, and cometh down from the Father’ (James 1:17 KJV).

Many a grieving heart is comforted by a pet whose love and loyalty makes their loss more bearable and helps them to go on. Did you know people with pets live longer, stay healthier, recover faster, and experience less depression? Who will ever forget the dogs on 9/11 as they searched through the carnage of the World Trade Center, howling in distress because they couldn’t rescue those who perished? And how about the skilled dogs that give sight to the blind and visually impaired? That sounds pretty spiritual, right? When God created our pets He said, ‘It [was] good.’ Why did He say that? Because they have the virtues of mankind without its vices. So let’s recognise them as a gift from God, be grateful for them, and take good care of them!

Confront them! - FRIDAY MARCH 31

‘Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”’      2 Samuel 12:7 NKJV

Can you imagine the courage and integrity it took for Nathan the prophet to challenge King David about his affair with Bathsheba? Most of us tend to avoid confrontation because we fear being disliked and rejected. But when you avoid confrontation it often makes things worse. By hiding his sin, David was robbing himself of the blessing of the Lord. Looking back, he wrote, ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my…prayer’ (Psalm 66:18-19 NIV 1984 Edition).

The tiny growth you don’t want to deal with now can end up becoming a cancer that consumes you in the future. That’s too high a price to pay. If you love someone, you’ll take your courage in your hand and confront them in love. Confrontation is an opportunity to help develop that person - provided you do it respectfully and with their best interest at heart. Here are ten guidelines to help you confront someone in a positive way:

1) Do it ASAP.

2) Address the wrong action, not the person.

3) Address only what the person can change.

4) Give them the benefit of the doubt.

5) Be specific.

6) Avoid sarcasm.

7) Avoid saying ‘you always’ and ‘you never’ because they are not true.

8) When it’s appropriate, tell them how you feel about what was done wrong.

9) Give them a plan to fix the problem.

10) Affirm him or her as a person and as a friend.

The Bible says, ‘The Lord corrects those he loves’ (Proverbs 3:12 NCV). So if you love someone, you’ll confront them in the right way.

Christ is in you (2) - THURSDAY MARCH 30

‘The mystery in a nutshell is…Christ is in you.’ Colossians 1:27 MSG

Paul writes, ‘Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20 NKJV). No other religion makes such a claim. No other movement implies the living presence of its founder in his followers. No wonder Paul refers to it as ‘the mystery’. We comprehend the idea of Christ for me, or with me, or ahead of me. But Paul said it’s better than that - Christ in me! In his writings Paul refers to this union with Christ 216 times. John mentions it 26 times. They describe a Christ who not only woos us to Himself, but actually ‘ones’ us with Himself. John writes, ‘Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God’ (1 John 4:15 NKJV).

Just as you own the home you live in, so the Christ who lives in you owns you. And when you own a home you rearrange it the way you want it. Likewise, Jesus moves in and commandeers your hands and feet, requisitions your mind and your tongue. Do you sense things being rearranged in your life today? That’s ‘Christ in you’! Eugene Peterson paraphrases Paul’s words this way: ‘He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son’ (Romans 8:29 MSG). Ever hear the old saying, ‘Making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear’? That’s what Jesus does when He takes up residence in your heart. He has a plan for your life, and He also provides the power to fulfil it. And what’s your part? To surrender and cooperate fully with Him.