Thursday, January 9, 2014

PRACTICE COURTESY

"Be Courteous...That You May Inherit A Blessing."  1 Peter 3:9

Common courtesy is becoming less common every day.  And that is not good, because the Bible says, "Be courteous...that you may inherit a blessing."  Sometimes, we are not sure how to go about pleasing God.  Preachers have made it complicated: a series of long-drawn-out, deeply painful acts designed to appease a God who delights in making us squirm.  The prophet Micah simplifies it: "What does the Lord require of you...to love kindness" [Micah 6:8].  Could language be clearer? Here are ten 'not-so-common' courtesies you should work on every day, and teach your children.  After all, if they do not learn common courtesy from you, where are they going to learn it?

  1. Go out of your way to speak to people.  "Pleasant words are...healing' [Proverbs 16:24].
  2. Try to remember their names.  It shows you value them.
  3. Smile; it increases your 'face value'.
  4. Be friendly and helpful.  If you do, people will return it [Proverbs 16:24].
  5. Show genuine interest.  You can find something good in almost anybody, if you try [Philippians 4:8].
  6. Be generous with your praise and cautious with your criticism.
  7. Be slow to judge.  There are three sides to every story; your side, their side, and the right side.
  8. Instead of 'using' others, serve them: 'By love serve one another' [Galatians 5:13].
  9. Start trusting people.  It builds lasting relationships.
  10. Be humble. Oswald Chambers said, "When a saint becomes conscious of being a saint, something has gone wrong."
Courtesy does two things: 
  • It speaks well of your parents.  Jesus said, "Live so that people will...praise your Father" [Matthew 5:16].
  • It determines your level of blessing. "Be courteous...that you may inherit a blessing."

Monday, January 6, 2014

WATCH WHAT YOU SAY

"Stephanas, Fortunatas and Achaicus...have been a wonderful encouragement to me." 1 Corinthians 16:17 - 18

Most of us have no idea how much other people's emotions, self esteem and hopes are influenced by what we say.  Paul said, "Stephanas, Fortunatas, and Achaicus...have been a wonderful encouragement to me."  If you have never heard of them, it is because most encouragers hate being the centre of attention.  They are happy to work in a supporting role.  But without them very little would get done.  The opposite of giving encouragement is spreading discouragement, and Paul says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up...that it may benefit those who listen" Ephesians 4:29.  Jesus said..."You will give account...by your words you will be justified, and...condemned" Matthew 12:36 - 37.  What you say can never be taken back and it will be used as evidence for or against you one day.  

Dr. Thomas Blackaby points out, "Words...can leave scars for a life time, and many people will never forget some of the things you have said to them, both good things, such as words of encouragement, and bad things, such as criticism and rebuke...Make the best possible use of words so they bring blessings on others."  So, are your words encouraging? Can it be said that there is...nothing crooked or perverse...in them" Proverbs 8:8?  Ask God to "set a guard...over your mouth..." Psalm 141:3.  So whatever you say glorifies Him and lifts others up.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PITFALLS FOR LEADERS

"WORK HARD AND BECOME A LEADER." PROVERBS 12:24

If you are a leader, try to avoid these pitfalls:

  1. Micromanaging vs. Leading.  Managing people requires an eye for detail, whereas leading involves vision-sharing, goal-setting and motivating.  And you must know the difference.  When you micromanage rather than lead, morale plummets because people need clear objectives and the freedom to figure out how to reach them.  Do not micromanage; it diminishes the sense of 'ownership' those under and around you need for good team dynamics and problem-solving.
  2. Confusing Individual Loyalty with Team Building.  It is good to work closely with key individuals, but it is also important for people to stay 'connected to each other' [Romans 12:5].  Make sure everybody gets to be on the team, feels valued and learns to interact with one another.
  3. Being Afraid to Try Things.  Stretching people into new areas means they will make mistakes.  While locking them into the same routine may keep them [and you] safe, it takes the motivational wind out of their sails.  Being a leader means risking other people's failures and biting your lip as you let them 'toddle' out into the unknown.  Like a parent who prays harder when their teen takes the family car out for their first drive, you must accept that some challenges which frighten you are liberating to others.  Solomon said, 'Work hard and become a leader.'  That raises a question.  If you are leading others, who is leading you?  The best way to lead, is to follow God and obey His Word!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

STRIVE FOR INTEGRITY, NOT POPULARITY

"The integrity of the honest keeps them on track...."  Proverbs 11:3

Joseph refused the advances of Potiphar's wife, not because he thought he could not get away with it, but because he knew he could not live with himself if he accepted them.  The world needs people who cannot be bought; whose word is their bond; who put character above wealth; who possess opinions and a will; who are larger than their vocations; who do not hesitate to take chances; who would not lose their individuality in a crowd; who will be as honest in small things as they are in great things; who will make no compromise with wrong; whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires; who will not say they do it "because everybody else does it"; who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity; who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning and hardheartedness are the best qualities for winning success; who are not afraid to stand for the truth even when it is unpopular; who say "no" with emphasis, even though the rest of the world says "yes".

In what he calls a compromise of integrity, Psychiatrist Leo Randall analyses the relationship between former President Nixon and some of his closest confidants in the Watergate scandal.  He records a conversation between Senator Howard Baker and Nixon aide Herbert Porter.  Baker: "Did you ever have qualms about what you were doing?" Porter: "No!"  Baker: "Why?"  Porter: "Group pressure.  I was afraid of not being considered a team player."  So strive for integrity, not popularity!

Monday, October 7, 2013

HOW LONG WILL THIS ATTACK LAST?

"Having Done All...Stand." Ephesians 6:13

The size of the prize determines the severity of the fight.  The enemy knows your vulnerabilities and he will push you to your limits.  When he does, remember: "Blessed is the man who endures...when he has been approved, he will receive the crown" [James 1:12].  "Approved" means victory qualifies you for greater things.  "Endures" means your staying power is being tested.  So, "having done all...stand."  You say, "How long will this attack last?" The prince of darkness hindered Daniel's prayers for 21 days [Daniel 10:13].  Goliath defied the armies of Israel 40 days and nights [1 Samuel 17].  Your enemy is relentless; you must be too. When it comes to prayer, your persistence overcomes his resistance.  "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" [Hebrews 10:36].

David did not get into trouble with Bathsheba until he left the battlefield.  It is the safest place to be.  So stay there, keep fighting and God will come to your aid.  When Joshua needed extra time to defeat his enemies, the sun stood still.  God was saying, "As long as the sun does not go down you will not go down either, for the same power that is holding it up is holding you up."  Isn't that great?

Jesus healed people in different ways.  Some He spoke to, others He touched.  One day, He told 10 Lepers to go and show themselves to the Priest.  And the Bible says: "As they went, they were cleansed" [Luke 17:14].  They were probably wondering, "When will it happen?  How will it happen?"  Faith does not demand details, it just keeps moving obediently forward, believing God for the right result!

Friday, October 4, 2013

HAPPINESS KEYS [PART TWO]

"Blessed...are those who hear the Word...and obey."  Luke 11:28

Jesus said, "[Real] life is not measured by how much you own" [Luke 12:15] but by how you live.  That is why it always wise to:

  1. Challenge Yourself.  Examine how you spend your leisure time.  After a long day, it is easy to relax in front of the television but you will be happier if you are physically and mentally active.  Go for a walk, play with your children, take time to read God's Word and pray, even when you do not feel like it.  Jesus said that in order to follow Him, we "must give up the things [we] want" [Luke 9:23].
  2. Reach out to others.  The smallest good deed is worth more than the most impressive intention, so if you want to help yourself, help others.  Not only will it make you feel better, being around other people who are giving of themselves keeps you connected to a larger cause.  The enemy does not mind you talking about your faith as long as you do not practice it, whereas God never teaches us anything without giving us an opportunity to put it to work.  That is why Jesus said, "Blessed...are those who hear the Word...and obey."
  3. Be more patient.  A man who rode the ferry to work prided himself on his punctuality.  But one day he overslept.  Fearing he would be in trouble with his boss, he raced to the dock only to see the boat six feet out from the terminal.  Taking a leap, he landed on the deck.  Smiling, the Captain said, "Great jump! But if you had waited another minute we would have docked and you could have walked on."  Do not be in such a hurry; give it a little time.  "Patience...can...overcome any problem" [Proverbs 25:15].

Thursday, September 26, 2013

HAPPINESS KEYS [PART ONE]

"If you know these things."  John 13:17

If you want God's best, do not just think about how to invest your money, think about how to invest your life.  Jesus said, "If you know these things...happy...are you if you...do them."  Living this way means:

  1. Making time for friends and loved ones.  "Let no one seek his own, but each...the other's well being." [1 Corinthians 10:24].  George Eliot wrote: "Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."
  2. Giving thanks.  If you cannot be grateful for what God has given you, look around you and be grateful for what He has protected you from.  The enemy does not have to steal anything from you, just make you take it for granted.  "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another" [John 1:16].  The excitement of a new car or a salary increase soon passes, but anytime you stop to count your blessings you start feeling better.
  3. Practicing contentment.  A gardener who had tried everything to get rid of a wide spread plant of the composite family having yellow flower heads and deeply toothed, edible leaves wrote to the Department of Agriculture for help.  "What can I try next?" he asked.  "Try getting used to them!" came the reply.  In life, you get what you focus on!  That is why Paul writes, "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise" [Philippians 4:8].