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How change happens (2) - SATURDAY 20 MAY

‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ Genesis 32:26 NIV (2011 Edition)

Change happens through commitment. When Jacob realised he was wrestling with the angel of the Lord, he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ That’s what it takes – commitment. Jacob was committed and persistent; he stuck with it until he worked his way through it. He didn’t like where he was any more than you do. It was frustrating and it was getting him down. But he was totally committed to sticking with it until God turned it around for his good. When God gets our attention through a crisis, He doesn’t always solve it immediately; sometimes He waits to see whether we really mean business. We’re so conditioned to instant everything – instant food, instant Internet access, instant success – that when we don’t get an immediate answer to our prayer or an instant turnaround we say, ‘Forget it, God.’

The fact is you didn’t get into this mess overnight, and you won’t get out of it overnight. Sometimes God has to remove our weaknesses layer by layer. Experts tell us it takes six weeks of doing the same thing every day before it becomes a habit. Think of that in terms of developing the habit of praying and reading your Bible each day, or relearning to love your spouse. That’s six weeks…forty-two days…over a thousand hours…and Satan will fight you at every turn. So what should you do? Spend time with God. ‘They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint’ (Isaiah 40:31 KJV).

How change happens (1) - FRIDAY 19 MAY

‘We are changed into his glorious image.’ 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

Change happens through crisis. God changed Jacob’s name, which means ‘deceiver’, to Israel, which means ‘a prince with God’. And He did it through crisis. Realising he had to go home and face the wrath of his brother Esau, whom he’d mistreated, Jacob became desperate. That night in his tent he wrestled with the angel of the Lord. And the change in his life didn’t come quickly or easily, because we’re told he wrestled until daybreak. But suddenly it dawned on Jacob that he was wrestling with God, and it was a fight he couldn’t win. Likewise, God will let you wrestle with an issue you can’t resolve, to get your attention. He’ll bring you to the place where you must concede, ‘I can’t handle this situation. It’s too big for me. I need God!’ If that’s where you are today, you’re on the cusp of a breakthrough. If you’re asking God to make you comfortable in the mess you’re in, forget it – it’s not going to happen.

‘As an eagle stirs up its nest…so the LORD alone led him’ (Deuteronomy 32:11-12 NKJV). A mother eagle withholds food from her children to persuade them to leave the nest and learn to fly. Can you imagine what they’re thinking? ‘It’s my mother doing this to me!’ And God will do the same to you. He’ll allow a crisis in order to get your attention. He knows you won’t change until your fear of change is surpassed by the pain you’re experiencing. Bottom line: ‘The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.’

The qualities of a spiritual leader - THURSDAY 18 MAY

‘Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour.’ 1 Timothy 5:17 NKJV

To be a spiritual leader worth following:

1) You must be accountable to someone. Someone who knows you well enough to pray with you, strengthen you in your vulnerable areas, and counsel you on important decisions. Authority without accountability inevitably leads to disaster.

2) Your personal priorities must be in order. Priorities have a way of slipping. Too many of us become successful at the cost of a broken home and failing health. Why? Because we allowed our priorities to slip.

3) Your walk with God must be consistent. David said, ‘Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You’ (Psalm 119:11 NASB).

A disciplined daily walk with God is your best protection against sin. If instead of spending time with God you’re spending it on things that have become more important, it should alarm you. Pay particular attention to the word ‘treasured’. It means to value and protect something, and let nothing threaten it. Take time to pray and read your Bible every day – and guard that time with your life. Give God your mind every morning when it’s fresh. And if you’re a pastor, your first calling isn’t the building project, the board, or the budget, it’s ‘feed my sheep’ (John 21:16 KJV). If Saturday finds you searching for a sermon outline on the Internet, make some changes. Delegate secondary things and get back to putting first things first. ‘Seek out from among you…men…whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and…ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:3-4 NKJV).

God is your unfailing source - WEDNESDAY 17 MAY

‘The brook dried up.’ 1 Kings 17:7 NIV (2011 Edition)

The psalmist wrote, ‘Joyful are those…whose hope is in the LORD their God’ (Psalm 146:5 NLT). One author writes: ‘Sometimes when there’s not enough money to make ends meet, people tell us to budget and we chuckle. We look at the situation and say, “No way.” That’s the time to trust God. Your possibilities aren’t limited by past or present circumstances. If there’s not enough to pay legitimate expenses, do your best and then let go. Trust God to supply your need, then look beyond your wallet. Look to your source. Claim a divine, unlimited supply. Do your part. Strive for financial responsibility in thought and action. Ask for wisdom, and listen to God’s leadings. Then let go of your fears and your need to control. We all know money is a necessary part of living – and so does God.’

F. B. Meyer said: ‘The education of our faith is incomplete till we learn that God’s providence works through loss …There’s a ministry to us through the failure and fading of things. The dwindling brook where Elijah sat is a picture of our lives! “Some time later the brook dried up” (1 Kings 17:7 NIV 2011 Edition) is the history of our yesterdays and the prophecy of our tomorrows. We must learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the giver. The gift may last for a season, but the giver is eternal. If the Lord had led Elijah directly to the widow at Zarephath, he’d have missed something that helped make him a better man – living by faith. Whenever our earthly resources dry up, it’s so we may learn that our hope and health are in God.’

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.