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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I Can’t Love People Without Listening to Them

In review of Romans 15:2 it says, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).

Romans 15:2
I should be considerate and help others do what is right, building them up in the Lord.

Listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships, because I can’t love people without listening to them.

There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. I can hear something and not really be listening. Sometimes the words don’t even matter. Somebody can say to me, “I’m fine,” but the way they say it tells me they’re not. Listening means I also hear what the person isn’t saying.

This is called empathy. Empathy means to put myself in the other person’s shoes and learn their point of view. I ask myself, “How would I feel if I were in that situation?”

Listening with empathy means I listen without interruption and I listen for fears and feelings. I listen for what they aren’t saying. I’m not trying to fix the situation. Often healing comes just by listening!

Romans 15:2 says, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).

What does it mean for me to be considerate or to bear the burden of a doubt of others? It means that when people are in so much pain and hurting so badly that they don’t even know what they believe, they need the devotion of a loyal friend, someone who will be present and listen with empathy.

Bottom Line:
Be considerate, help others do what is right.

What this means to me:
I am to be considerate and help build others up do what is right.

In summary, I need to be considerate and help others do what is right. Listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships. I can love others without listening to them. There's a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening means I also hear what the person isn't saying. This is empathy and it's where I put myself in the other person's shoes and learn their point of view. I need to listen without interruption and listen for fears and feelings. Often healing comes by listening. Others need the devotion of a loyal friend, someone who will be present and listen with empathy.

Father I feel that you are speaking to me and preparing me for conversations I will have this week, especially as I being meeting with team members one-on-one or with any other conversations I might have with others. I pray this morning that I will recognize these situations when they arise and not miss them. I do truly want to make a difference in the lives of others. I also pray Father for your wisdom and guidance as I handle my first day back from vacation. Help me to lead my team, assist other and respond rightly. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Learning to Break Free from Unforgiveness

In review of Job 21:23, 25 it says, “One person dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease . . . Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good” (Job 21:23, 25 NIV).

Today’s passages are from Job 21:23 and 25. Job recognizes and says, some people stay healthy till the day they die; they die happy and at ease, their bodies well-nourished. Others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts.

The way I respond to my personal struggles shows my attitude toward God. Rather than becoming angry with God and life, I need to continue to trust him, no matter what my circumstances may be. Although it is often difficult to see, God is in control. I must commit myself to him so I will not resent his timing.

In my life, God will place opportunities in front of me, doors only I can open. But I can’t step through them if I’m harboring any unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is a prison.

The Bible tells us, “One person dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease . . . Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good” (Job 21:23, 25 NIV).

Ultimately I have a choice. I can hold on to unforgiveness and bitterness, or I can experience the life God is calling me to live. I can’t have both.

I may think the person who hurt me doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. I may be right, but I must keep in mind that I don’t deserve forgiveness, either.

Ephesians 4:32 reminds me, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV).

Forgiveness isn’t easy. But it’s the only way to step into the life God wants for me.

Bottom Line:
My responses matter, forgive, because I have been forgiven.

What this means to me:
My response matters, I need to learn to forgive, regardless of the situation. I forgive, because God has forgiven me through Christ Jesus.

How has your life been affected by bitterness or unforgiveness?
When do you find it most difficult to forgive others?
What person do you need to forgive right now? What’s keeping you from it? What one step can you take toward forgiveness this week?

In my life today, I don’t think there is anyone person who I’m holding back forgiveness on. I am however affected by what it takes to accomplish things at work. I get bitter at times and it likely reflects my outlook and responses. I do need to keep in mind that God has me where I am to train me, to help others, and to make a difference. I just need to turn my eyes away from the situation and focus on serving and making things better.

Today Father, I could use your assistance to help me focus on what is important to finish before I take time off of work. I pray for your wisdom and guidance in decisions, interactions and in plans on how I lead others. This I pray through your Son Jesus name, amen!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

I Don’t Need to Pretend Anymore

In review of Psalm 119:45 it says, “I have gained perfect freedom by following your teachings” (Psalm 119:45 CEV).

Today’s verse is from Psalm 119. It says, I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

God's word is true and wonderful. I need to stay true to God and his word no matter how bad the world becomes. Obedience to God's laws is the only way to achieve real happiness. For obeying God's laws will not restrain me. Rather, they will free me to be what God designed me to be. By living his way, I have the freedom to fulfill God's plan for my life.

Lots of people like to pretend. This is not about children who play make-believe. Its adults (including myself) who try to pretend they’re somebody else to get the approval of others.

Perhaps I’ve been pretending for so long that I don’t know who the real me is anymore. I may be  wearing a mask, and it’s wearing me out. Everyone else thinks you’ve got plenty of . But the truth is, I’m exhausted.

Social media exaggerates the problem. It’s the biggest tool today that can lock me into a pretend world. If I was to post a picture of a great sunrise today, I’d want to post a better picture tomorrow. I don’t post a photo of myself five minutes after I wake up, the real me, dark circles under your eyes, bedhead, and all. Instead, I just pretend I’m something or someone I’m not or compare my life with what others post.

I may be pretending for one of two reasons (or maybe even both).

First is the people-pleasing trap, where I want to meet their expectations and fulfill their purpose for my life or my job. But even God can’t please everyone, and it’s foolish to attempt something God can’t even do. As one person prays for rain, another prays for sunshine. Someone’s always going to be unhappy.

Secondly is the trap of perfectionism. When I think I must be perfect to be loved. But the problem is, I know better. I know I’m not perfect. So I just pretend.

So what’s the antidote for pretending? I need to stop focusing on what others think and start focusing on what God thinks.

Only one person knows me completely, loves me unconditionally, and knows exactly what I’m created to do: God. Living for God rather than the approval of others simplifies my life. When I do that, I live for an audience of one, rather than 50.

The Bible says it like this: “I have gained perfect freedom by following your teachings” (Psalm 119:45 CEV).

Freedom comes when I look to God for approval and not anyone else. I don’t need to earn his love. I don’t need to be perfect to please him. I can’t buy his approval or fake my way to it.

He knows everything I’ve ever done, and he loves me, totally, fully, and overwhelmingly.

So I don’t need to pretend anymore.

Bottom Line:
Freedom comes from following your teachings

What this means to me:
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your teachings.

In summary, I can walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments for they will free me from what God designed me to be. I have the freedom to fulfill God's plan for my life. I've been reminded that I've been pretending for so long that that I don't know who the real me is. I get caught up in the people-pleasing trap, where I want to meet their expectations and fulfill their purpose for my work. But even God can't please everyone. I also get caught up in the trap of perfectionism, when I'm not, so I pretend to be or want to give the illusion that I am. I'm reminded that the antidote for this is to stop focusing on what others things and focus on what God thinks. Live for God's approval, or an audience of one.

Wow, God really spoke and gave me direction through this study this morning. After yesterday, I had been feeling a bit down, like I had let some many down regarding problems at work (WebEx changes due to the contract expiring, Macbook authentication issues to the proxy, new Landesk not working, announcement / final decision to move some of my resources to other leaders and hearing that others thought this was a good move.) God knows how I felt and provided me this word and help today. I need to stop pretending to please everyone and know that I won’t be perfect.

This morning Father I pray for your continued wisdom and guidance in my work, leadership and interactions with others. I ask that the Holy Spirit remind me to live for the audience of one, you. You love me and want me to succeed at fulfilling your plan for me. This I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I Am Called to Be Free

In review of Galatians 5:13 it says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free” (NIV).

Galatians 5:13
As for you, my friend, I was called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting my physical desires control me. Instead, let love make me serve others.

In this verse, Paul distinguishes between freedom to sin and freedom to serve. Freedom or license to sin is no freedom at all, because it actually enslaves me to the enemy, others and even to my own sinful nature. By contrast, I should not be a slave to sin, because I'm free to do right and to glorify God through loving service to others.

God wants me to live in freedom. In fact, the Bible says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). Freedom is my calling. God doesn’t want me to live a buttoned-down, constrained life. He wants me to have an abundant life.

Jesus tells me, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).

If I’m not living a full and satisfying life, it’s not because God doesn’t want me to have it. He wants to set me free from:

1). The pain from my past. This is the regret or resentment that keeps me from being all God wants me to be.
2). The pressures of my present. This is the stress or exhaustion I face trying to manage the complexities of everyday life.
3). The pessimism about tomorrow. These are the worries about my future or the futures of those I love.

God wants me to be free of all of that.

To do so, plug in to the power of Easter. God has made available to me the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead 2,000 years ago.

The Bible says, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT).

The same power that blew the door off Jesus’ tomb will blow open the prison doors that hold me back.

Bottom Line:
We have been called to live in freedom. Not to to satisfy sinful desires, but rather to serve others in love.

What this means to me:
I have been called to live in freedom. But I shouldn't use this freedom to satisfy my sinful nature. Instead, I use my freedom to serve others in love.

In summary, I was called to be free, however I should not let this freedom be an excuse for letting my desires control me. Instead, I need to let love allow me to serve others. God wants me to have an abundant life. God wants to set me free from the pain of my past, the pressures of today, and any pessimism about tomorrow. To be free, I need to plug into the power of Easter. God has made available to me the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

Often the pressures of today zap my energy. I get caught up in the myriad of tasks and needs. God wants to free me from these. I just need to remember to plug into the power he offers to help guide me so that I can deal with it. This morning Father I pray for your power to help me live each day abundantly. Not as if life was a chore, but rather a way to serve others each day. I pray for your wisdom and guidance in my work, leadership for my team and just how I interact with others. I pray this in your Son Jesus name, amen!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

God’s Guidance Won’t Leave Me Confused

In review of Psalm 77:19 it says, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” (NLT).

Today’s verse is from Psalm 77 where the psalmist recalls how God led the people across the Red Sea when there didn’t seem to be a path. They psalmist in this situation that your road led by a pathway through the sea—a pathway no one knew was there!'

I can comforted through the hard times by remembering God's help in the past. Recalling God's miracles and previous works can give me courage to continue.

God can use impressions to speak to me. He can use circumstances. He can even use pain. He can use whatever he wants to use. Oswald Chambers said, “God is the Great Engineer, creating circumstances to bring about moments in our lives of divine importance, leading me to divine appointments.”

The Bible says God actively works through our circumstances. And so I cannot judge my situation apart from God’s wisdom. In other words, I must leave it up to God to interpret my circumstances. Only he is capable of understanding all the facts, and only he sees the significance of every detail. That’s why it is so important that I test it all by his Word.

If I feel overwhelmed or confused about a decision, I’m likely caught up in myself and not God’s voice. The Bible says, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV). He is not the author of confusion. So if I’m feeling confused, It’s not God’s voice speaking in my life.

So many times I come up against enormous financial, spiritual, or physical barriers. That’s when I need to confess, “God, there are mountains on either side and an impassable barrier in front of me.” And then we wait for God to respond: “He has me exactly where he want me to be. Watch this.” God will make a pathway where there seems to be no way.

Psalm 77:19 says, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” (NLT).

When I don’t know what to do, God will guide me. He didn’t design me to go through life on my own ingenuity and power. I don’t have to just hope I can figure things out. God wants to lead me on the right path, and he will when I surrender to him and his guidance.

This morning Father I ask for your guidance and leadership. I have so many things that need to be done Help me with the priorities and help me be of assistance to others, my team and those I interact with. Help me to be loving and kind and to do what his helpful. This I pray through your Son Jesus name, amen!

Choose Holiness over Happiness

In review of James 1:14-15 it reminds me that “ We are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires . Then our evil d...