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Getting Out of a Spiritual Slump (2) - Thursday July 28

‘Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with [God]...’            Genesis 35:14 NKJV

When you recall God’s faithfulness to you it causes hope to rise in your soul. It enables you to face the future with confidence and say, ‘...He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who… keep his commands’ (Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV).

Looking back and remembering is a scriptural principle that works. ‘Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with [God]’; ‘Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan...’ (Joshua 4:9 NAS); ‘Samuel took a stone… set it up… and called [it]…Ebenezer, saying, ‘...“Thus far the Lord has helped us”’ (1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV). The Bible says, ‘No test… that comes your way is beyond… what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God… [will] always be there...’ (1 Corinthians 10:13 TM).

Going back through Scripture and remembering the ups and downs of God’s people and how He consistently came through for them, lends fresh perspective to your own situation and enables you to see a bigger picture. In Psalm 22 David starts out saying, ‘God… I call to you… but you do not answer’ (v. 2 NCV). But as soon as he starts remembering God’s faithfulness he does a 180-degree turn around and says, ‘Our ancestors trusted you… and you saved them. They called to you for help and… were not disappointed’ (vv. 4-5 NCV).

When you’re in a spiritual free fall, stop dwelling on yourself and your disappointment and begin to focus on God. ‘...Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave...’ (1 Kings 8:56 NIV). He’s still the same; He hasn’t changed.

Getting Out of a Spiritual Slump (1) - Wednesday July 27

‘As soon as they began singing...’            2 Chronicles 20:22 CEV

Here’s a simple but effective formula for handling a spiritual slump. Praise your way out! David starts Psalm 22 by asking, ‘God, why have You forsaken me?’ and ends it saying, ‘...You… dwell… [where]… praises… [are offered]’ (Psalm 22:3 AMP). You won’t always feel like praising God – that’s why it’s called ‘...the sacrifice of praise...’ (Hebrews 13:15). But when you’re in a slump you need the discipline of praise more than ever. It brings a sense of God’s power and presence like nothing else does.

That’s why the Psalmist wrote, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth’ (Psalm 34:1). By praising God in advance for the victory, you open a channel for Him to intervene in your circumstances, hope rises in your soul, and it’s impossible to stay down and defeated. And praise fits every personality, so you’ve no excuse! You can clap and shout (Psalm 47:1), use music and dance (Psalm 150:4), sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19-20), make a joyful noise (Psalm 98:4), lift your hands (Psalm 134:2), be still before God (Psalm 4:3-5), and you can even be loud! (Psalm 33:3, 95:1-6).

Your praises thwart the enemy’s best-laid plan! When the Israelites were outnumbered, they prayed and God told them the battle was His and that He would do the fighting. Judah (which means ‘praise’) went out ahead of the army, and ‘As soon as they began singing, the Lord confused the enemy… and… they turned against each other’. The minute you start praising God He releases His power to start working on your behalf. 

Tell ‘The Whole Truth’ - Tuesday July 26

‘...know the whole truth and tell it in love...’            Ephesians 4:15 TM

A teenager who’d just obtained his driver’s licence told his parents he was meeting his friends at a local restaurant. But this particular restaurant had several locations and he drove to one 60 miles away. They say, ‘What you don’t expose, will expose you.’ Unfortunately, his parents went shopping in that area the same evening. Imagine his thoughts when he stopped at anjunction, looked over, and saw his mum giving him that ‘look’ parents reserve for the worst offences!

We need to ‘...keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display...’ (2 Corinthians 4:2 TM); speak the plain, unembellished truth, so people don’t have to ‘ between the lines or look for hidden meanings...’ (2 Corinthians 1:13 TM). There are statements we instinctively disbelieve, like ‘The cheque is in the post… the puppy won’t be any trouble… I won’t tell anybody.’ Then there are ‘...lies so clever they sound like the truth’ (Ephesians 4:14 NLT).

For example, we want to be the good guy, so we leave out information that might put us in a bad light. Or to avoid upsetting somebody we stretch the truth. One Bible teacher writes, ‘Solving problems in a relationship is one of the most important skills you’ll ever learn. It makes for a successful family life, career, education, and social life. Unless we have these skills we’ll never be truly happy.

When you have a problem with someone, state it in a gentle, positive way. If you don’t start right you’ll have little hope of ending right.’ So, ‘grow up… know the whole truth and tell it in love’.

Use Your Time Wisely - Monday July 25

‘Making the most of your time...’            Ephesians 5:16 NAS

If you’re wise you’ll stop frequently and think about how you’re spending your time. Charles Swindoll writes, ‘In a book I read, The Time Trap, I came upon a list of the most popular time wasters. It helped to pinpoint some specific areas of inefficiency I must watch. Who hasn’t heard the true story of Charles M. Schwab and Ivy Lee?

Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel. Lee, a consultant, was given the unusual challenge, “Show me a way to get more things done with my time.” Schwab agreed to pay him “anything within reason”’ if Lee’s suggestions worked.

Lee later handed the executive a sheet of paper with the plan: “Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning, begin at once on number one and stay on it until it is completed. Recheck your priorities, then begin with number two, then number three. Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your cheque for what you think it’s worth.”’

That one idea turned Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world within five years. How much did Schwab pay his consultant? Several weeks after he received the note, he sent Lee a cheque for $25,000, admitting it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned. Try it for yourself. If it works, great. But don’t send me any money for the idea. I’d just blow it on another time-management book… which I don’t have time to read.’

‘Lord, Help Us to See’ - Sunday July 24

‘Take a good look… at who you were when you got called...’ 1 Corinthians 1:26 TM

Jesus didn’t see people as losers, but as potential winners who’d lost their way. He ‘...was moved with compassion for them...’ (Mark 6:34 NKJV). He saw them through God’s eyes, not weeds, but potential roses. And His perspective, which is often different from ours, brought out the best in them. Where others saw a woman with five failed marriages, He saw a restored sinner who could reach others in Samaria.

They saw a blind man; He envisioned someone who could see. They saw a cripple; He pictured a man picking up his mat and walking away. They saw Matthew as a reviled tax collector; He saw a future disciple. They dismissed Zacchaeus as a crook; Jesus recognised a searching heart. When His disciples saw costly perfume and unnecessary expense, Jesus recognised the sacrifice of a grateful heart. Others saw an impulsive fisherman; Jesus saw a leader who could build His church.

Onlookers watched Roman soldiers mocking as they pounded nails into human flesh; Jesus saw blind men who didn’t know what they were doing. ‘Lord, help us to see!’ Paul says, ‘...think of what you were when you were called. Not many… were wise by human standards; not many were influential…[or] of noble birth’ (1 Corinthians 1:26 NIV).

Face it, you weren’t so wonderful before God turned you around, so stop judging others from your limited perspective and try to see them as God saw you. Work to bring out the best in them. Introduce them to the One Who came to bring ‘...great joy to all the people’ (Luke 2:10 NCV) – no exceptions!