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Know your calling (1) - TUESDAY 20 JUNE

‘What is that in your hand?’ Exodus 4:2 NIV (2011 Edition)

When God called Moses, one of the first questions He asked him was: ‘What is that in your hand?’ Moses was holding his shepherd’s staff – the one he used each day to lead and protect his sheep. But God had a different plan for it – a greater one! He used it to part the Red Sea and lead Israel into the Promised Land. When God asks you, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He wants you to think about your talents, experiences, relationships, education, resources, your mind and your temperament. Dr Martin Seligman talks about our ‘signature strengths’. They fall into six categories:

1) Wisdom and knowledge. These include things like curiosity, love of learning, sound judgement, and social intelligence.

2) Courage. This includes perseverance and integrity.

3) Humanity. The capacity for kindness, and the ability to express mercy.

4) Justice. The ability to bring about fairness and leadership. 5) Temperance. Qualities like self-control, prudence, and humility.

6) Transcendence. An appreciation for beauty, the expression of gratitude, the ability to hope, and the capacity for joy.

We all have the capacity for each of these strengths, but the ones that resonate most deeply within you are your ‘signature strengths’. Once you identify these you begin to understand your calling. But be careful; the enemy wants to convince you that God can’t use you because of your weaknesses, when in fact the opposite is true. Who can speak to those who are grieving better than those who’ve suffered loss? Chuck Colson was the chief White House lawyer until Watergate. But only when he became a convict was he equipped to begin his ministry, Prison Fellowship. So, know your calling.

Having the right attitude - MONDAY 19 JUNE

‘You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.’ Philippians 2:5 NLT

How many jobs do people lose every day because of poor attitudes? How many are passed over for promotion because of the way they approach their work and the people around them? How many marriages fall apart? It would be impossible to calculate. No one should ever lose a job, miss a promotion, or destroy a marriage because of a poor attitude. Why? Because a person’s attitude isn’t set; it’s a choice.

Chuck Swindoll writes: ‘Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It’s more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I’m convinced that life is 10 per cent what happens to me and 90 per cent how I react to it. And so it is with you…We are in charge of our attitudes.’

Paul writes, ‘You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.’ He always approached people with love, grace, acceptance, and a heart to serve rather than be served. So if your attitude hasn’t been as good as it could be, make this your starting point. Pray: ‘Father, give me a Christlike attitude towards everyone I meet.’

Dad, bless your children! - SUNDAY 18 JUNE

‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Mark 2:5 NKJV

Old Testament fathers placed their hands on their children’s heads and spoke certain promises over them, believing the blessing of God can be passed from one generation to another. It’s why ‘Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him’ (Genesis 28:1 KJV). It’s why Jacob refused to die before blessing his grandchildren (see Genesis 48:14).

Children without caring, involved fathers often spend their whole lives searching for a sense of identity and self-worth. Increasingly they’re finding them in the company of rebellious peer groups, street gangs, drug dealers, and on social media and the Internet. And we see the results of it all around us. Instead of fulfilling their God-given destiny, these kids become defined and labelled by a lifestyle such as ‘runaway’, ‘convict’, ‘troublemaker’, ‘addict’, Before Tupac Shakur, the rap artist known for his violent song lyrics, was gunned down in 1996, he said, ‘I never knew my real father. I know for a fact that if I’d had a father, I’d have some discipline [and] more confidence.

Your mother can calm you down, reassure you, show you where your manhood is. But you need a man to teach you how to be a man.’ When a man was brought to Him for healing, before Jesus forgave and healed him, He called him ‘son’. He didn’t say, ‘You’ve got to clean up your act,’ or ‘You must do things My way.’ No, He established a relationship with the man by showing him love and acceptance. And as a father you need to do the same. Loving and accepting your kids as they are, without conditions and condemnation, is the greatest gift you can give them.

What’s slowing you down? - SATURDAY 17 JUNE

‘Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.’ Hebrews 12:1 NLT

The Bible says, ‘Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.’ What’s slowing you down, or tripping you up? In life you only get to run once, so run to win. To avoid stumbling and losing your place in the race, don’t look back. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it. Don’t be anxious about the next lap, just focus on the next step. If you miss that, you may fall and not get up again. Keep going, and before you know it you’ll have more laps behind you than ahead of you. Make every one count.

Many of us carry the weight and worry of burdens. But older and wiser people have come to understand their burdens are of no real importance. We waste our strength extinguishing fires that if left alone would burn out on their own. Time is your most valuable resource. Save it, and you’ve increased your assets and decreased your liabilities. Travel light. Ditch the baggage of self-sabotaging habits and pointless fears. There are enough painful trials in life; why endure the ones you can ‘strip off’? When blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was within reach, he threw off his coat so it wouldn’t trip him up, and ran towards Him. And his faith paid off: ‘Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus’ (Mark 10:52 NKJV). You’ll never know how successful you can be until you get rid of the things that slow you down and trip you up.

Shalom - FRIDAY 16 JUNE

‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. ’ Exodus 33:14 NIV (2011 Edition)

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. And apart from God it will always remain a pipe dream, a philosophical fantasy, or a tantalising fish that is just beyond your bait and hook. Marriages go awry and fall apart because we look to an imperfect mate to give us the perfect peace we’re searching for, and we discover they can’t. The story’s told of a woman at a cocktail party who was trying her best to look happy. Noticing the gargantuan sparkling rock on her finger, a guest exclaimed, ‘Wow! What a beautiful stone!’ She replied, ‘Thank you. It’s the Callahan diamond.’ The onlooker said, ‘I wish I had one!’ The woman replied, ‘No, you don’t.’ ‘Why not?’ he asked. ‘Because it comes with the Callahan curse,’ she replied. ‘The Callahan curse – what’s that?’ asked the questioner. She sighed and said, ‘Mr Callahan!’ Perfect peace can only come from a perfect peace-giver, and the only one who meets that qualification is God.

Peace isn’t the absence of problems; it’s the presence of God in the midst of your problems. What’s more, nobody ever finds peace by looking for it. Peace isn’t something you find; it finds you when you surrender your life to the One who said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Note the words ‘My Presence’. Only God’s presence can bring peace. The assurance of God’s love, God’s help, and God’s presence is what takes the stress out of living. Are you longing for peace today? When you surrender your life to Christ, you’ll ‘experience…peace…far more wonderful than the human mind can understand’ (Philippians 4:7 TLB).