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Don’t give place to envy - FRIDAY 26 MAY

‘LORD…You guard all that is mine.’ Psalm 16:5 NLT

Have you allowed envy to form a ‘stronghold’ in your life? Do you find yourself avoiding or feeling resentful of certain people because of their success? The Bible says, ‘Envy rots the bones’ (Proverbs 14:30 NIV 2011 Edition) and the New Living Translation paraphrases it this way: ‘Jealousy is like cancer in the bones.’ If you find yourself constantly criticising someone and craving what they have, read these words and think about them carefully and prayerfully: ‘I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen’ (Jeremiah 29:11-12 TLB).

In essence, envy says to God, ‘You made a mistake when You made me like I am. I want to be like that other person, and have what they have!’ No, God has a unique calling and destiny for you. So instead of giving place to envy, let it motivate you to become the best possible ‘you’ – the person God intended you to be. If you’re fighting a losing battle with envy, here’s a prescription from God’s Word you need to take every day: ‘LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice’ (Psalm 16:5-9 NLT).

Shout it from the rooftops! - THURSDAY 25 MAY

‘Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.’ Psalm 107:2 NKJV

No matter how badly you have failed, God will give you another chance. After Jonah had disobeyed God, spent three days in the belly of a whale, and been regurgitated on the shore at Nineveh, the Bible says, ‘The word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time’ (Jonah 3:1 KJV). King David’s sins were front-page tabloid material. Yet God restored him, and he wrote: ‘He…brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay…set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD’ (Psalm 40:2-3 NKJV).

When God restores you, it doesn’t matter who’s fighting against you. When He raises you up, no one can keep you down. If God has redeemed you – ‘say so’. Nobody else can tell your story. Nobody else knows what God has done for you. Nobody else knows how far you’ve come. Nobody else knows what you’ve been through. But you do – you know it was only by God’s grace that you survived. So don’t allow the devil to steal your testimony. It may have taken you longer than everybody else, but God has given you the victory. The devil would love to silence you. Why? Because when you tell people what God has done for you, someone else will be set free. The Bible says, ‘Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.’ So the word for you today is: shout it from the rooftops!

Spend time alone with God - WEDNESDAY 24 MAY

‘Be still, and know that I am God!’ Psalm 46:10 NLT

God can speak to you anytime, anywhere, through anybody, by dropping a thought into your mind (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). But because that thought can be crowded out by busyness, He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ In stillness you can hear God more clearly. ‘Jesus used many…illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand…but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them’ (Mark 4:33-34 NLT).

In High Call, High Privilege, Gail MacDonald writes: ‘The ancient desert fathers used to commit themselves to a disciplinary creed: silence, solitude, and inner peace. Only after adequate amounts of time listening, did they consider themselves ready to speak…Today there’s a strange logic that spiritual resource and renewal are found in constantly seeking new voices, attending more meetings…to exchange half-thought-out opinions…We fall into the trap of believing God is most pleased when we’ve maximised our information, our schedules, and our relationships. Disengagement means silence before God…a time of heavenly discussion during which we listen more than we speak. And silence demands solitude.’ In waiting quietly before God, your spiritual ear is trained to know His voice.

Sylvia Gunter writes: ‘I understand why David had to command his soul to be still…Being quiet is difficult…almost impossible for some of us. But I’ve discovered that my soul and spirit have been starving for stillness for a long time, and now that I’ve given my soul a taste of stillness again it will not be satisfied unless it’s a regular part of my day.’

How change happens (5) - TUESDAY 23 MAY

‘And he was limping because of his hip.’ Genesis 32:31 NIV (2011 Edition)

The Bible says, ‘The sun rose above [Jacob] as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.’ That’s significant, because the thigh muscle is one of the most powerful muscles in the human body. In order to get Jacob’s attention, God touched him at a point of strength. Once we start thinking, ‘This is what I’m really good at; this is where I’m really strong,’ God may have to touch that very thing to get our attention. Jacob’s limp served as a lifelong reminder that he was no longer to trust in his own power, but in the power of God. He was no longer to live in his own strength, but in God’s strength. And in so doing he became a much stronger person.

Think about it: every time Jacob got in a mess, his first response was to turn tail and run. Sound like a familiar pattern? Do you do that? So God finally said, ‘I know how to take care of that – I’ll put a limp in his walk!’ And for the rest of his life Jacob would have to stand and face his problems head-on, not in his own strength but in God’s strength. How about you? What’s the one thing you’d most like to change about your life? Do you want God to help you? He will – in His own way. He will use the process of crisis, commitment, confession, and cooperation. And when God does the changing, it will be permanent. You won’t have to worry about willpower and sticking with it because you’ll be cooperating with God, relaxing, and trusting in Him alone.

How change happens (4) - MONDAY 22 MAY

‘Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face.”’ Genesis 32:30 NIV (2011 Edition)

Change happens through cooperation. God started changing Jacob the moment he admitted who he was and began to cooperate with His plan. Jacob named the place where he wrestled with the angel ‘Peniel’, meaning ‘the face of God’. Each of us must eventually come face to face with God, and when we do He can change us. In essence God told Jacob, ‘Now we can get down to business. Cooperate, and trust Me. I’ll make the changes you want, and I’ll bless you.’ Notice: God didn’t say, ‘Try hard and use your willpower to become perfect.’ That doesn’t work, and God knows it. Willpower alone doesn’t bring lasting change in our lives. It just deals with the outward circumstances. Internal motivation brings about lasting change, and that’s what God works on.

He told Jacob, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel’ (v. 28 NIV 2011 Edition). Jacob would never be the same. Once you have a personal encounter with the living God, He changes you. He changed Jacob from a ‘cheater’ to a ‘prince’. God saw his potential. He looked beyond the tough exterior of a guy who portrayed himself as hardened and worldly-wise. God saw all Jacob’s weaknesses, but He also saw beneath the surface: ‘That’s not the real you, Jacob, you’re actually an Israel – a prince.’ And the same goes for each of us: ‘We are…heirs…and joint heirs with Christ…that we may…be glorified together’ (Romans 8:16-17 NKJV). In the words of Paul: ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ’ (Philippians 1:6 NIV 2011 Edition).