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Focus on what really matters - WEDNESDAY 31 MAY

‘Life is not measured by how much you own.’ Luke 12:15 NLT

One day a man was talking to an angel. The angel said, ‘What can I do for you?’ The man said, ‘Show me the Wall Street Journal one year from today. This way, I’ll know where to invest my money and become a multimillionaire.’ So the angel snapped his fingers and out came a Wall Street Journal dated one year in the future. The man flipped the pages of the newspaper, studying the listings and observing which stocks would be high and which ones would be low. But in the midst of his joy, tears began to roll down his cheeks. Why? Because when he looked over the obituary column, there was his face.

God is not opposed to you acquiring and achieving things in life. But He wants you to know that this life can only offer so much, and unless you live each day in the light of eternity, you’re going to waste your time on the wrong things. It’s okay to enjoy temporal things, as long as your main focus is on eternal things. Paul said: ‘My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God’ (Acts 20:24 NLT). In the UK if you live to be one hundred, you may receive a ‘Congratulations’ card from Buckingham Palace, signed by the Queen herself. But it doesn’t compare to the ‘well done’ you’ll receive from God for fulfilling the assignment He has given you here on earth.

You belong to God - TUESDAY 30 MAY

‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you…You are Mine.’ Isaiah 43:1 NKJV

When God redeems you, He owns you. And what He owns, He protects! This is illustrated in the story of Belshazzar. The Bible says: ‘King Belshazzar held a great feast for his one thousand nobles…heady with the wine, [he] ordered that the gold and silver chalices his father Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from God’s Temple of Jerusalem be brought in so that he and his nobles, his wives and concubines, could drink from them’ (Daniel 5:1-2 MSG). Now, if they’d just abused some worthless old cup it might not have mattered, but God valued these sacred vessels too much to let them be mishandled. So out of the invisible sleeve of the night, the finger of God wrote the fate of Belshazzar on his palace walls. ‘That same night…Belshazzar was murdered. Darius the Mede…succeeded him’ (vv. 30-31 MSG).

As a redeemed child of God, here’s an unchanging principle you can stand on: ‘He permitted no man to do them wrong…saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones”’ (1 Chronicles 16:21-22 NKJV). You may have to fight on foreign soil, work at home in a difficult situation, or endure hardship for your faith. But you can be sure of one thing – God has too much invested in you to let you be destroyed. And any time Satan tries, God will interrupt his party and say, ‘This vessel is off limits – it took Me too long to teach this woman to pray…I’ve invested too many years training this man how to overcome…They’ve endured too much for My name’s sake for Me to let you harm them. Take your hands off them; they’re Mine!’

Set goals for your life - MONDAY 29 MAY

‘Write the vision and make it plain.’ Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV

Only when you’re clear about your personal goals, can you measure your personal growth. Here are eight proven principles that will help you to establish the right goals for your life:

1) Begin with prayer; otherwise the ladder you’re climbing may be leaning against the wrong wall. ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but…the LORD’s purpose… prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21 NIV 2011 Edition).

2) Think on paper. God told Habakkuk, ‘Write the vision and make it plain.’ Writing your goals down gives them a sense of permanency, plus it energises you.

3) Set deadlines. ‘The vision is yet for an appointed time’ (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV). Without a definite beginning and ending, it’s easy to procrastinate and get nowhere.

4) List the steps you need to take. Then keep the list before you at all times; it will show you the path to follow.

5) Prioritise the steps in order of importance. What do you need to do first? What can you do later? An organised plan is always better than trying to carry stuff around in your head.

6) Take action – now. ‘Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity’ (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV 2011 Edition). A mediocre plan that’s implemented always beats a brilliant plan that isn’t.

7) Do something each day to move you forward. For example, read systematically through the Bible in a year…call a specific number of clients every week…engage in physical activity every day.

8) Have goals you’re willing to devote your life to. The psalmist said, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12 NIV 1984 Edition).

Write it down – then tear it up! - SUNDAY 28 MAY

‘Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.’ Philippians 3:13 NKJV

There will always be people who speak ill of you. ‘She’ll never amount to anything… His parents were nothing, his grandparents were nothing, and he’s going to be nothing too!’ The question is: who are you going to believe, God or your critics? According to Scripture: ‘Anyone…in Christ…is a new creation; old things have passed away…all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). God says that by His grace you’re going to prove your critics wrong, so stop listening to their negative predictions. Stop believing the family members, schoolteachers, employers, and so-called ‘friends’ who try to put you down. Turn a deaf ear to racism and sexism. Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32 NIV 2011 Edition).

Renew your mind daily with the truth of God’s Word (see Romans 12:1-2). You may have been abused, misused, rejected, and neglected, but it’s time to forget those things that are behind and start reaching forward. When God speaks a word over your life, as far as He’s concerned it has already been accomplished; it’s ‘a done deal!’ Now it’s your job to believe it, speak it, and walk in the reality of it each day. When someone says something that leaves a scar on your heart and mind, do this: 1) Write it down on a piece of paper. 2) Ask God to help you forgive them and to erase the scar. 3) Tear up the paper, toss it into the rubbish, and ‘press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14 NKJV).

Get the mix right! - SATURDAY 27 MAY

‘It was not mixed with faith.’ Hebrews 4:2 AMPC

In order for cement to become concrete, it must be mixed with sand and water. If you don’t get the mix right, the cement will never become concrete. And just as your body needs good nutrition each day, your soul needs to be fed on God’s Word. But you can’t stop there. You must act on what you hear and read. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth! If you don’t act on God’s Word, it won’t do you any good. ‘The message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it.’

To get the results God’s Word promises, note what you must ‘mix’ in: ‘Confidence in his power, wisdom, and goodness.’ Why do you go to church and sit down in a pew? Because you are confident that the pew will hold you up. The reverse is also true. You may say you believe the pew can hold you up, but if you never sit down on it, you’re not exercising faith – because you’re not acting on what you say you believe. What does it mean to ‘act’ in faith?

1) To agree with God’s Word and refuse to say anything that contradicts it.

2) To wait patiently, allowing God to fulfil His Word in His own way and on His own schedule.

‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for’ (Hebrews 11:1 KJV). Note the word ‘substance’. Your faith must be based on something substantial. And that ‘something’ is the tried, proven, unfailing truth of God’s Word.