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Be proactive - THURSDAY APRIL 20

‘How long will you neglect to go and possess the land…?’     Joshua 18:3 NKJV

When it comes to building good relationships, you must be proactive. This calls for knowing who you are as a person, and what you want from the relationship. While it seems counterintuitive to focus on who you are individually versus who the two of you are as a couple, the whole is only as strong as the parts. Great relationships are based on each party being truthful and up-front about their real needs, desires, feelings, and values. While as a couple you must make decisions together, decisions about who you are as a person and what you want your life to be are yours alone to make. Allowing someone else to make those decisions for you is a mistake. When you let someone else decide who you are and what you want, you give away the power that God gave you. Understand this:

1) Doing nothing is not making a decision.

2) Sitting back and pretending not to see a situation for what it is, is not a decision.

3) Procrastinating about what to do until something happens where you’ve no choice but to go one way or the other is not a decision. It’s passivity, and in the end it won’t serve you well. Sometimes you have to accept unchangeable circumstances, but you always have the choice to decide what you want to be within them. This principle is taught clearly by what God told His people on the threshold of the Promised Land: ‘How long will you neglect to go in and possess the land which the Lord…has given you?’ So, be proactive.

Anger - WEDNESDAY APRIL 19

‘They do not know what they are doing.’ Luke 23:34 NIV (2011 Edition)

Max Lucado writes: ‘It begins as a drop of water…Someone gets your parking place, pulls in front of you on the motorway, a waitress is slow and you’re in a hurry, the toast burns…Get enough of these seemingly innocent drops of anger and you’ve got a bucket full of rage…We trust no one…bare our teeth at anyone who gets near…become walking time bombs that, given the right amount of tension and fear, could explode…We can’t deny…anger exists. How do we harness it? Jesus said about the mob that killed him, “Father, forgive them…they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV 2011 Edition)…He saw this bloodthirsty, death-hungry crowd not as murderers, but as victims…He saw in their faces not hatred, but confusion…He regarded them not as a militant mob but “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34 NIV 2011 Edition).

“They don’t know what they are doing…” think about it…they hadn’t the faintest idea…They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. They didn’t know what they were doing, and for the most part neither do we. Much as we hate to admit it, we’re shepherdless sheep…born out of one eternity and frighteningly close to another…We can’t answer our own questions about love and hurt…can’t solve the riddle of ageing…don’t know how to heal our own bodies or get along with our mates…My point is: uncontrolled anger won’t better our world…sympathetic understanding will. Once we begin to operate not from a posture of anger but of compassion…we realise the lights are out…a lot of people are stumbling in the darkness…So we light candles.’

The problem with envy - TUESDAY APRIL 18

‘God has given…you…special abilities…use them to help each other.’ 1 Peter 4:10 TLB

One counsellor notes: ‘When we climb on board the see-saw of envy, we sink straight down while the focus of our discontent rises far above us. In this out-of-balance comparison we always find ourselves wanting. Envy leads to self-pity and ingratitude…we’re so preoccupied with our dissatisfaction that it’s impossible to enjoy what we have and what we’re doing. Envy leads to bitterness, resentment and hostility. It’s not surprising the word envy comes from the Latin word invidere, which means to look at with malice …You are a unique creation with your own special capabilities, timetable, and destiny…it makes no sense to compare yourself. An honest, grateful look at your God-given assets will help you become satisfied with what you have and who you are.’

Don’t let envy steal another second of your happiness. When it motivates you to compare yourself with others, you always come up short. It makes you cynical. Nothing you do is satisfying. Envy makes you suspicious of other people’s motives, even when they genuinely care about you. You have trouble accepting that their friendship is real so you distance yourself from them, and you end up with very few friends. What’s the answer? Acceptance and gratitude is the antidote to the poison of envy. It’s about accepting that God’s in control, and learning to be thankful for the ‘many kinds of blessings’ that surround you. Remember, ‘God has given…you…special abilities…use them to help each other.’

Develop an overcoming attitude - MONDAY APRIL 17

‘He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.’ 1 John 4:4 NKJV

The disappointments of life can cause you to see nothing but negativity in your future. You express hopelessness, belittle your own abilities, refuse to take any risk, say no to personal growth opportunities, complain about the unfairness of life, and say that nothing you do will make a difference in a particular circumstance. Do you recognise any of these attitudes in yourself? If so, there’s good news. Dr Paul Meier, a Christian psychiatrist, said, ‘Attitudes are nothing more than habits of thought, and habits can be acquired. An action repeated becomes an attitude realised.’ That means with practice, you can develop an overcoming attitude. Here’s how:

1) Be honest about your quest to conquer pessimism. Give someone you respect the permission to point out when you are being negative.

2) Limit your exposure to negative input. Since you become like the company you keep, look for people who fortify your faith and not feed your fears. ‘He that walketh with wise men shall be wise’ (Proverbs 13:20 KJV).

3) Volunteer to serve others who are less fortunate. Serving creates positive feelings and gives you a sense of value; it’s also the right thing to do.

4) Look for the good in every situation and always express faith that it’s there!

US President Harry Truman said, ‘A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities, and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.’ When you face a difficulty today, see it as an opportunity because ‘He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world’.

Do you believe this? - SUNDAY APRIL 16 - EASTER SUNDAY

‘I am the resurrection and the life…Everyone who…believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this?’ John 11:25-26 NLT

We struggle with the idea of our own mortality. It’s said that Florence Nightingale feared death so much, after the Crimean War she went to bed and basically stayed there until she died in 1910. Chuck Swindoll says we skirt the subject by using:

1) Humour. Making a joke of it keeps death at a safe distance so we never have to face reality.

2) Denial. King Louis XIV of France wouldn’t allow the word “death” to be uttered in his presence. But on September 1, 1715, he discovered that death can’t be wished out of existence. People spend so much on anti-aging creams, Botox, and plastic surgery to avoid seeing evidence of death’s approach.

3) Romanticism. A man in Europe built a special room where he can live with his dead wife. His bed is next to her casket. He decorated the room with flowers and candles. He writes her poetry every day in a romantic attempt to avoid the pain of her passing.

4) Fear. Observe fellow passengers on an aeroplane when turbulence causes sudden drops and vibrations. Young and old alike scream and cry out.’ The good news is you don’t have to fear death! The One who defeated it said, ‘Because I live, you also will live’ (John 14:19 NIV 1984 Edition).

When you repent and commit your life to Christ, you have His personal guarantee of eternal life. After Lazarus died, Jesus told his sister Martha: ‘I am the resurrection and the life…Everyone who…believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this?’ If you do, you’ll live forever with Christ.