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Is there a better way? - Saturday June 25

‘Let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything god has for us...’ Philippians 3:15

We must never stop asking, 'Is there a better way?' You can't pray for progress and fight change. In 1829, Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, wrote to President Andrew Jackson cautioning him about the future: 'President Jackson, the canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of railroads. We must preserve the canals for the following reasons:

1) If canal boats are supplanted by railroads, serious unemployment will result. Captains, cooks, repairmen and lock tenders will be left without jobs, not to mention farmers now employed in growing hay for horses

2) Boat builders would suffer, whip and harness makers would be left destitute

3) Canal boats are absolutely essential to the defence of the United States. In the event of the expected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could ever move the supplies so vital to waging modern war.

As you may well know, Mr. President, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 mph by engines, which, in addition to endangering life and limb, snort their way through the countryside belching out smoke, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. Surely the Almighty never intended people should travel at such breakneck speed.

' Poor Martin - what would he think if he knew we were flying 33,000 feet high, at 500 mph sipping coffee and typing on a notebook computer? God is the author of all true progress, so we must never stop asking, 'Is there a better way?'

Become a better listener - Friday June 24

‘...Be quick to listen, slow to speak...’ James 1:19

Want to become a good leader? Become a good listener! Here are two stories of what happens when we don't take time to listen. The first is from a young woman hurt by a manager who constantly cut her off: 'We expected he would wait and give us answers to serious questions about our work.

Many times he walked off when we were in mid-sentence, having heard nothing.' The next is from a church youth director who was fired: 'After serving the Lord there for two years, I was called into an elders' meeting. They took out a list of all the things I'd done wrong in the past two years. Most of what they said was true, for I was brand new in this work. Then they called for my resignation. What did I learn?

a) not once did anyone care enough to coach or shepherd me

b) I'd no idea or warning that I was doing anything wrong

c) the church leaders never built a relationship with their staff.' Why is it so hard for some leaders to listen? Because leaders love to talk, and as they gain more authority there is the danger to think they have less reason to listen. Leaders by their very nature tend to be removed from the frontlines of battle.

To win, they must constantly listen to those who are in the trenches and rely on that information to make wise decisions. Before Ezekiel was qualified to prophesy or lead God's people, he wrote: '...I sat among them for seven days - overwhelmed. At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me' (Ezekiel 3:15-16 NIV).

Putting God's kingdom first (2) - Thursday June 23

‘Seek the kingdom of God above all else...’ Matthew 6:33

As you read the following nine qualities, ask yourself, 'Are these things evident in my life today? Am I developing these fruits so that I may be entrusted with greater responsibility for the advancement of God's kingdom?'

a) merciful and grace-giving. '"God blesses those who are merciful..." "Stop judging others, and you will not be judged"' (Matthew 5:7; Matthew 7:1 NLT)

b) reconciliatory. '"If...a friend has something against you...go and apologise and be reconciled to him..."' (Matthew 5:23-24 TLB)

c) teachable. '"Anyone who listens to My teaching and obeys Me is wise..."' (Matthew 7:24 NLT)

d) courageous. '"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves...don't be afraid..."' (Matthew 10:16&26 NLT)

e) submitted. '"Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!"' (Matthew 12:50 NLT)

f) surrendered. ‘”If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me"' (Matthew 16:24 NLT)

g) repentant. '"...unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven"' (Matthew 18:3 NLT) h) humble. '"But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted"' (Matthew 23:12 NLT)

i) servant-minded. '"But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant"' (Matthew 20:26 NLT). If you're willing to make Jesus Lord of your life, make His Word the last word on all issues, and seek the fullness of His Spirit - you can live this lifestyle too!

Putting God's kingdom first (1) - Wednesday June 22

‘Seek the kingdom of God above all else...’ Matthew 6:33 NLT

What does it mean to put God's kingdom first in your life? It means 12 things. Read them carefully then ask, 'How do I measure up?'

a) obedience to God. '"...anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven"' (Matthew 5:19 NLT)

b) love. '"...love your enemies! ...If you love only those who love you, what good is that?"' (Matthew 5:44,46 NLT)

c) justice. '"God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice..."' (Matthew 5:6 NLT)

d) peace. '"God blesses those who work for peace..."' (Matthew 5:9 NLT)

e) holy living. '"...let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father"' (Matthew 5:16 NLT)

f) integrity. '"Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will' or 'No, I won't'...''' (Matthew 5:37 NLT)

g) generosity.'" When you give a gift to someone in need...Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you"' (Matthew 6:2,4 NLT)

h) spiritual wholeness. '"...Is anything worth more than your soul?"' (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

i) biblical knowledge. '"Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures..."' (Matthew 22:29 NLT) j) Faith in God. '"...if you had faith as small as a mustard seed...Nothing would be impossible." "...But with God everything is possible"' (Matthew 17:20; Matthew 19:26 NLT)

k) blessing people. Jesus not only taught this, but His constant healing of, training, and serving others demonstrated how to do it

l) disciple-making. '"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations..."' (Matthew 28:19 NLT). According to Jesus that's the only agenda worth living for - and if necessary, dying for!

Be Led by God, Not Others - Tuesday June 21

‘...led by the Spirit of God...’    Romans 8:14 NKJV

God will help you to be all you can be, but He will never help you to be somebody else. When you try to be somebody else, you lose yourself in the process. God wants us to fit into His plan, not yield to pressure and try to fit into someone else’s. It’s all right to be different; different is OK!

Find out what you’re good at, throw yourself into it wholeheartedly and you’ll start to experience true joy. Besides, when you try to do what somebody else is good at, you generally fail, right? That’s because God hasn’t assigned you to do what they are doing, or at least not in the way they’re doing it. But that doesn’t mean you’re not good at anything. Here’s an important key: focus on your potential, not your limitations.

We all have limitations and we must accept them. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact of life. Actually, it’s wonderful to be different without feeling like there’s something wrong with you. Spiritually mature people know that God loves them as they are and has a purpose for their life, so they’re not threatened by the abilities and accomplishments of others. They enjoy what other people do, because they enjoy what they themselves do. Paul writes, ‘Let us not become… competitive… envying and… jealous of one another’ (Galatians 5:26 AMP).

In the end, what matters most is being able to say as Jesus said, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do’ (John 17:4 NIV). Any time you can say that, you did it right!