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How to maintain your peace - TUESDAY 16 MAY

‘Search for peace, and work to maintain it.’ Psalm 34:14 NLT

You can maintain a peaceful state of mind wherever you go and whatever you do. ‘How is that possible?’ you ask. The Bible says, ‘Search for peace, and work to maintain it.’ To enjoy a life of peace, you must first recognise what’s stealing your peace. Satan uses many of the same tactics on everyone, but we each have particular issues. For example, one person may be disturbed by having to do two or three things at a time, while another may be energised by fielding several projects at once. We’re all different, and we must learn to know ourselves. Satan studies you carefully and knows which buttons to push.

One Bible teacher writes: ‘I can endure things better when I’m not tired…so [Satan] waits to attack until I am worn out. I learned by pursuing peace, what Satan already knew about me; now I try not to get overly tired because I know I’m opening a door for him when I do. It will be virtually impossible to enjoy a life of peace if you don’t study yourself, and know what your “peace stealers” are. Keep a list of each time you get upset. Ask yourself what caused the problem, and write it down. Be honest with yourself or you’ll never break free.’ In the middle of life’s storms you can be anchored by God’s peace. But He won’t just drop it into your lap; you have a part to play. You must ‘seek, inquire for… crave peace and pursue (go after) it!’ (AMPC). So if you’ve lost your peace today – go after it and get it back.

Today share your faith with someone - MONDAY 15 MAY

‘A woman of Samaria came to draw water.’ John 4:7 NKJV

One day Jesus met a woman who’d come to draw water from a well. After five failed marriages, her trust in men was zero – and her self-esteem was minus zero! But after her encounter with Christ, she left the well radically changed. When it comes to sharing our faith, we learn three important lessons from her story:

1) Jesus sees the best in everybody. ‘The Pharisees…complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners”’ (Luke 15:2 NKJV). And when it came to the woman at the well, they were right. She’d been through five divorces and was the talk of the town because she was living with another man. Yet she was the first person to whom Jesus introduced Himself as the Messiah. Why didn’t He do that when He called His disciples? Or performed His first miracle? Or interviewed Nicodemus? Because Jesus doesn’t measure you by your past or your pedigree – but by your potential.

2) Jesus changes you, then He uses you to change others. This woman was the first person to share the gospel in Samaria, and ‘many…Samaritans…believed in Him because of the word of the woman’ (John 4:39 NKJV). Out of your brokenness, God can use you to make others whole.

 3) Jesus doesn’t need you to explain Him, just to introduce Him. He speaks for Himself. The Bible says: ‘Many more believed because of His own word…They said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ”’ (vv. 41-42 NKJV). Today share your faith with someone.

Hold on – help is on the way - SUNDAY 14 MAY

‘The hair of his head began to grow again.’ Judges 16:22 NKJV

When we think of Samson we usually think about his failures – the steamy story of him and Delilah. It’s true that Samson lost everything: his hair, his strength, his sight, his position, his family, and his reputation. The mightiest man Israel had ever seen was now in a Philistine dungeon: blinded, humiliated, grinding corn like an ox – a laughing stock. But it’s not over until God says it’s over! At his lowest point Samson cried out to God for mercy, and got it. ‘The hair of his head began to grow again.’ His hair, which was the secret of his strength, was restored. And as a result his greatest moments in ministry were his last ones! Today he is mentioned with honour in Hebrews chapter eleven, alongside the other heroes of faith (see Hebrews 11:32). God’s promise is: ‘Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength’ (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV). You may be hurting right now, but be patient, help is on the way.

You prayed, ‘Lord, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.’ Hold on, God is coming to your aid. He’s coming to deliver you and set you free. He’s going to bring you out, set you free from captivity, and restore you. In the Old Testament when Job the patriarch was battling boils, bankruptcy, and bereavement, he said, ‘All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes’ (Job 14:14 NKJV). God restored Job and gave him back twice as much as he lost. And He wants to do the same for you. So hold on – help is on the way!

The truth about marriage (3) - SATURDAY 13 MAY

‘The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.’ Luke 6:38 NLT

The truth about the container: When the offering plate was passed in church, a lady didn’t put anything in. When she complained all the way home about how poor the service was, her little boy said, ‘Mum, that proves if you don’t put anything in, you won’t get anything out.’ Marriage is like an empty container – you get out what you put in. This truth frees you to make your relationship rich and rewarding by becoming a giver rather than a taker. Some people think the container comes filled with romance, sexual fulfilment, and being served in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. They think they can take whatever they want from a never-ending supply – instant, low maintenance, satisfaction guaranteed! Then one day they dip in and come up empty. Shocked, disappointed, angry, despairing, and hopeless, they conclude that their partner failed, fooled, or forsook them. Why else would the container be empty? Then they go looking for a new container.

The truth is, it’s your responsibility to make enough deposits every day to guarantee sufficient withdrawals for a rich relationship. Jesus said, ‘The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.’ Ask yourself what you’d like to have in the container, and how much. Then deposit enough to generate that amount. J. Allan Petersen said: ‘There’s no love in marriage; love is in people, and people put it into marriage. There’s no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages. A couple must form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising – keeping the box full.’

The truth about marriage (2) - FRIDAY 12 MAY

‘Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold – it’s not to be found in the marketplace.’ Song of Solomon 8:7 MSG

The truth about Mr and Mrs Right: Many who excel in their careers struggle when it comes to meeting people in a social setting. This has given rise to the twenty-first-century phenomenon of finding a mate through the Internet. Today, in the western world, two out of five marriages begin that way. Generally speaking, dating services profile people based on their age, looks, values, tastes, ambitions, and preferences, and help them get together for a date. Well, guess what? The divorce rate is just as high among couples who met via the Internet as those who did it the old-fashioned way. How come? Because ‘love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold – it’s not to be found in the marketplace’. And when the bubble bursts, three things happen:

1) We cry, manipulate, or pressure our mate. And when that doesn’t work we blame them for changing and making us miserable. ‘He’s not the man I thought he was.’ Maybe not, but he’s the one you married – and, with some exceptions, the problem isn’t all his.

2) We conclude that Mr and Mrs Right are Mr and Mrs Wrong. So we start searching for the right one, or give up on the opposite sex as being false, faithless, and fickle.

3) We realise that lasting happiness can only be found in one Person – God. So instead of trying to find the right person, we decide to become the right person; the one God created us to be…giving generously, allowing others to be real, limited, changeable human beings, and looking to God for our joy.