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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.

Keep the fire burning - SATURDAY APRIL 15

‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us…?’ Luke 24:32 NKJV

After the resurrection Jesus met two of His disciples who’d seen Him crucified and didn’t know He’d been raised from the dead. Then later as He ate supper with them at their house, an interesting thing happened: ‘Their eyes were opened…they knew Him…and they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”’ (vv. 31-32 NKJV). This story has much to teach us about keeping the fire of love and devotion to Christ burning in our hearts.

As you walk with Jesus and spend time in His presence, He talks to you and reveals Himself through the Scriptures. We all know that to keep a fire burning you must tend it, stoke it, and keep fuelling it. Why do some of us go on to higher heights and deeper depths in our walk with God, while others seem to go around in circles without getting anywhere? Because one group commits itself to pursuing God until His presence becomes a daily reality in their lives, while the other group doesn’t. It’s that simple. The question is, which group are you in? If you’re lukewarm and half-hearted in your walk with God, today He is saying to you, ‘Return to Me…and I will return to you’ (Zechariah 1:3 NKJV). Or in layman’s terms: ‘Turn around and come back. You’ll find Me where you left Me.’ So the word for you today is: keep the fire burning.

Calvary was always part of God’s plan - FRIDAY APRIL 14 – GOOD FRIDAY

‘It’s what God had in mind all along.’ Isaiah 53:10 MSG

The psalmist wrote: ‘My God, why have You forsaken Me…I am…a reproach of men, and despised…All those who see Me ridicule Me…saying, “He trusted in the Lord…let Him deliver Him”…I am poured out like water…My bones are out of joint…My tongue clings to My jaws…They pierced My hands and…feet…and for My clothing they cast lots’ (Psalm 22:1-18 NKJV). Think about it: David could be describing Jesus’ crucifixion in detail. Yet when he wrote these words crucifixion hadn’t been introduced as a form of execution. It was initiated centuries later by the Phoenicians, and long after that before it was adopted by the Roman Empire.

Dr Charles Augustus Briggs says: ‘You can take this psalm…lay it side-by-side with New Testament accounts of the crucifixion…and see how they dovetail perfectly. It’s astonishing that someone could describe something so intimately and intricately a thousand years before it happened.’ Calvary wasn’t the result of happenstance. Long before Jesus came on the scene, God had a plan to reconcile us to Himself through Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV). Historian Paul L. Maier says: ‘In Isaiah chapter 53 we have almost a running commentary on what happened on Good Friday…It would be mathematically impossible for anyone else to fulfil all these parameters of prophecy in the Old Testament better than Jesus.’ Bottom line: ‘It’s what God had in mind all along…that he give himself as an offering for sin.’ That means long before there was an Easter, God was thinking about you!