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You can change - SUNDAY APRIL 30

‘Put off…your former conduct…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.’ Ephesians 4:22-23 NKJV

Mind-sets are patterns whereby your mind automatically operates a certain way. That means you can set yourself up for misery by reacting to the same people and circumstances in the same way, and expecting different results. Maybe you are saying: ‘After all these years I thought he’d change…No matter how hard I try, my family doesn’t appreciate me…How come I’m the only one who makes an effort to stay in touch?’ It’s easy to blame your problems on others - ‘Look what he’s doing. Look how long I’ve waited. Why doesn’t she call?’ We think the answer lies in getting the other person to do what we want, but that kind of thinking is self-defeating; it gives control to others. Your happiness isn’t determined by other people, even though you’ve convinced yourself it is.

An experienced counsellor writes: ‘If you don’t like the same results…try pushing a different button. Look at your relationships. Is there a situation that’s going downhill despite your best efforts? Are you waiting for something to change, instead of doing something different? Stop pushing the same button, and ask God for clarity to see the situation honestly and to act with wisdom and responsibility.’ You’re not a victim of circumstances; you don’t have to stay stuck or keep going round in circles. Paul says, ‘Put off…your former conduct …and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.’ The word for you today is: you can change!

Trust requires truth - SATURDAY APRIL 29

‘Don’t lie to each other.’ Colossians 3:9 NLT

Deception in a relationship destroys trust and respect. One lie or one act of betrayal can cause a wound that takes years to heal, and in some cases is never healed at all. The person who hides something is basically selfish, protecting their own interests. They care little about the feelings of the other person. There’s nothing shallower than empty words and lying clichés that have no real meaning. There are some people who coerce others into a sexual relationship by claiming they love them. Deception at this level is emotional rape! It’s a terrible feeling to be used by someone. The deceiver may continually promise that they will leave their spouse, and the victim holds on to hope. But it never seems to come true.

The deceiver makes every kind of excuse possible for taking advantage. Because of the victim’s vulnerability, they follow blindly along until the relationship has gone so far that the victim is trapped. As a sinner, you may have been excused for acting this way, but not as a redeemed child of God. ‘Don’t lie to each other.’ When someone has given you their trust, they’ve given you a priceless gift; don’t abuse it. And if your trust has been betrayed, confront it head-on. Though you may love the person, back off until they show clear signs of repentance and a willingness to make amends. And don’t give up hope. Sometimes good people make bad choices. If you work at it, and seek God’s help, it’s possible to restore the trust you’ve lost and maybe even end up with a better relationship.

Speak well of them - FRIDAY APRIL 28

‘Do good to those who hate you.’ Luke 6:27 NKJV

When General Robert E. Lee was asked by Confederate US President Jefferson Davis to give his opinion about a certain officer, he gave a glowing report. One of the officers in attendance was amazed at his words and said to Lee, ‘General, do you know that the man of whom you speak so highly to the president is one of your bitterest enemies, and never misses an opportunity to criticise you?’ Lee said, ‘Yes, but the president asked my opinion of him. He didn’t ask for his opinion of me.’ It takes character, compassion and courage to speak well of a critic. But when you do, three good things happen:

1) You increase your own value. You show you’re able to rise above criticism by bestowing praise on another.

2) You defuse your enemy’s criticism of you. When people hear your praise of a critic and their disdain for you, their respect for you rises and they see you in a different light.

3) People see you as fair-minded and generous. It takes very little effort to respond in kind to a critic, but it takes Christlike character to turn the other cheek and bless them.

Jesus said: ‘Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also…And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise’ (vv. 27-31 NKJV). You say, ‘That’s a high standard.’ It’s the one Jesus set, practised throughout His life, and is calling you to live by today.

Go by the book - THURSDAY APRIL 27

‘Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.’     Hebrews 10:35 NKJV

How long should you keep praying and believing God for the answer? Until He tells you differently. In other words, go by the book! ‘Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise’ (vv. 35-36 NKJV). Many of God’s promises have timelines, and you need long-distance faith to receive them. The word endurance pictures a runner determined to reach the finish line. You say, ‘But I’m not sure what God’s will is.’ His will is revealed in His Word, and that’s what you must believe and speak over your situation. To say otherwise is to contradict God. Abraham stood on God’s promise that he’d be the father of many nations when there wasn’t a shred of evidence to prove it.

For twenty years he looked up into the night sky believing, ‘Lord, You said my children would be as numerous as the stars. I don’t know how You’re going to do it for I’m a hundred years old and my wife, Sarah, is ninety. But I’m going to believe You anyway.’ When you pray that way, you risk looking foolish in the eyes of others. But receiving the miraculous often involves looking ridiculous, like Jesus telling the disciples to fill wine pots with water or rubbing clay in a blind man’s eyes. But the guests at the wedding in Cana drank the finest wine, and the blind man went home seeing. Why? Because they obeyed the word Jesus gave them. So the word for you today is: go by the book.

God will make it up to you - WEDNESDAY APRIL 26

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.’     Joel 2:25 NIV (2011 Edition)

Kristine Steakley writes: ‘Loss can make us feel forsaken and utterly destroyed…For many divorce meant leaving the house we grew up in, our neighbourhood, our friends, our school…even our church because we were ashamed and heard condemnation from those who should have been concerned for our souls. To use Joel’s metaphor, locusts ate our family; more locusts ate our friendships…and still more ate our church…But God promised, “Never again will my people be shamed” (v. 26). I can’t tell you what restoration will look like…or when it’ll happen. Some of us will see relationships with parents and siblings mended…others will build great marriages and loving families…and some may have to wait for heaven where all wrongs will be righted, all wounds healed, all tears wiped away.’

One Bible teacher says: ‘Resist the temptation to despair or delve into disappointment. You may feel like you’ve forfeited years, opportunities, finances, and a significant return on investment of self. But hear the fantastic promise of redemption: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” No one on earth can make anything up to you. No one can pay. No one can set things right or make things fair. Pressure and manipulation won’t bring justice. So let it go and let God fill your life with new blessings. If you’re full of resentment and wrath He can’t find space for His gifts. God will make it up to you if you keep an expectant attitude of faith, and thank Him that His promises are yours.’