INVEST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

Love the Lord … Love your neighbor. Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

Think back to your best moments: your highest highs, your greatest victories, your most daunting obstacles overcome. How many happened to you alone? Very few, right? When you understand that being connected to others is one of life’s greatest joys, you realize that life’s best comes when we invest in solid relationships. Of the people you know, who seems to enjoy life more-the negative, suspicious and antisocial? Hardly! The Scrooges of life don’t enjoy much of anything. Jesus summed life up like this: “Love the Lord … with all your heart. .. Love your neighbor as yourself’ (See

Mt 22:37-39 NIV). On the other hand, people who love God and love people, live joyfully. If you love God and people

you’ll find friends wherever you go. And you’ll get further in life too! John Luther says, “Natural talent, intelligence, a wonderful education-none of these guarantees success. Something else is needed: the sensitivity to understand what other people want, and a willingness to give it to them. You don’t win fame, recognition or advancement just because you think you deserve it. Someone else has to think so too.”

There’s no substitute for a loving attitude when it comes to getting ahead. People who alienate others have a hard time.

Here’s why: (a) When others don’t like you they’ll try to hurt you. (b) If they can’t hurt you they won’t help you. (c) If they’re forced to help you, they’ll hope you don’t succeed. (d) When they hope you don’t succeed, life’s victories are empty. So if you want more out of life, start investing in solid relationships!



WHEN THE WALL GIVES WAY

Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness. Jeremiah 22:13

You can only hide your lack of integrity for so long. Eventually you’ll experience failure, and whatever influence you’ve temporarily gained will be swept away. Hurricane Katrina taught us that. When the storm came the levee walls in New

Orleans broke and the city went under. You see, integrity is like a wall–erected one brick at a time. That’s why it’s crucial to take care of the little things. A lot of us don’t understand that. We think we can do whatever we want when it comes to small things; we believe so long as we don’t have any major lapses we’re doing well. But that’s not the way it works. Webster’s New International Unabridged Dictionary describes integrity as adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of character, honesty. Ethical principles are not flexible. A little white lie is still a lie. Theft is still theft, whether it’s one dollar or one million. The truth is, if you can’t be trusted at all points you probably can’t be trusted at any point. Each time you break a moral principle you create a crack in the wall of your character, and when times get tough it becomes harder to act with integrity- not easier. You see, character isn’t created in a crisis; it just comes to light. Everything you’ve done in the past, including the things you’ve neglected to do, come to a head when you’re under pressure. One Christian leader writes, “Integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, people over things, service over power, discipline over impulse, commitment over convenience, and the long view over the immediate.”



DEALING WITH OUR GUILT

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out. Acts 3:19 NIV

Whether by thought, word or deed, we all sin more than we care to admit. And there are 3 ways of dealing with it:

(1) Blow it off. Don’t think about it; don’t ask what damage lies back there; don’t ask if there is mopping up to do. Bury yesterday in a flood of distracting experiences. Just keep on running. Perhaps the past won’t have time to catch up with us.

(2) Accept the burden and get used to it. This means living with an increasing weight of guilt, recognizing that life will get slower and slower as the burden gets greater and greater. That’s a recipe for depression.

3) Deal with it. A lot of us spend our lives apologizing and feeling bad about our habits and hang-ups-but we never do anything about them! Repentance literally means “a change of direction.” Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son who squandered half of his father’s wealth before making a total mess of his life. When he reached a point at which the pigs he tended were eating better than he was, he finally acknowledged that he was lost: “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here r am starving to death! I will … go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you'” (Lk 15:17-18 NIV). The moment he uttered those words his father opened his heart and his arms and welcomed him back home. And God will do that for you too, if you’ll just repent.



LEARN TO PACE YOURSELF!

The vision is yet for an appointed time … Though it tarry, wait for it … it will surely come. Habakkuk 2:3

 We’re multi-tasking today to the point of never focusing clearly on anyone thing. If you don’t take time to see the big picture, you’ll get lost in the details. Ask yourself, “What is it that only I can do?” Then give yourself to that, and delegate

the rest or drop it! Multi-tasking is good, but you must learn to focus without distraction on your God-ordained priorities. When we’re anxious about our goals we’re not being fueled by them-we’re being stressed by them! You can be a great visionary, yet be out of balance and end up neglecting what’s important. You can only pick what’s ripe. Don’t let what God’s given you spoil on the vine while you chase what tomorrow may bring. Start to manage your time better. In order to be ready for the future you must learn to pace yourself so you’re able to reap the harvest God has promised you. Failure to do this will cause you to ruin great opportunities because you underestimated what it would take to get you to your destination.

Don’t overlook the basics like food, sleep, exercise and time with God. Some of us take better care of our dogs and cats

than we do of ourselves. Too often we view sleep and exercise as luxuries and not necessities. Yes, there’s a time to work late or pull an all-nighter, but this must not be a lifestyle. If you want to reach your destiny you must plan accordingly and learn to pace yourself.



CALLED TO A HIGHER STANDARD

From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48 NIV

Christians can be some of the most sour and selective people on earth. Many times we feel obligated to show our

faith by criticizing people with whom we work rather than loving them and seeking a chance to say something encour-

aging. We ruin our testimony because others know that while we talk about Christ, we don’t act Christ-like. Often our testimony suffers because of our poor work ethic, long breaks, reading the Bible on company time, talking on the phone for hours with our friends, etc. But the worst thing is, we alienate ourselves as an elite group and leave others feeling “less than.” Not Jesus! He rubbed elbows with everybody. He was adept at reaching out to those society looked down upon-the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers. We like to put people into two boxes: the ones we like and the ones we don’t. Jesus said, “From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Hey, you’ve been called to a higher standard; one that requires exercising wisdom, humility, and grace in the midst of tension. When King Saul threw javelins at David, he ducked and kept on serving. While he was innocent of any wrongdoing, David handled the situation without becoming “defensive.” If your fellow workers don’t go to church the only chance they have of seeing the fruits of the Spirit in operation, is in your life. By responding with patience, love and professionalism you’ll make a lasting impact on them–one that could attract them to the Christ you claim to serve.



CALLED TO A HIGHER STANDARD

From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48 NIV

Christians can be some of the most sour and selective people on earth. Many times we feel obligated to show our

faith by criticizing people with whom we work rather than loving them and seeking a chance to say something encour-

aging. We ruin our testimony because others know that while we talk about Christ, we don’t act Christ-like. Often our testimony suffers because of our poor work ethic, long breaks, reading the Bible on company time, talking on the phone for hours with our friends, etc. But the worst thing is, we alienate ourselves as an elite group and leave others feeling “less than.” Not Jesus! He rubbed elbows with everybody. He was adept at reaching out to those society looked down upon-the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers. We like to put people into two boxes: the ones we like and the ones we don’t. Jesus said, “From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Hey, you’ve been called to a higher standard; one that requires exercising wisdom, humility, and grace in the midst of tension. When King Saul threw javelins at David, he ducked and kept on serving. While he was innocent of any wrongdoing, David handled the situation without becoming “defensive.” If your fellow workers don’t go to church the only chance they have of seeing the fruits of the Spirit in operation, is in your life. By responding with patience, love and professionalism you’ll make a lasting impact on them–one that could attract them to the Christ you claim to serve.



WORKPLACE CONTAMINATION

Be prepared. Ephesians 6: 13 TM

The “toxins” in our work environment can invade our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. So, stay focused on the

spiritual battle that awaits you. Prepare for it each morning by putting on your armor. What armor? Listen: “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take … every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them … God’s Word is an indispensable weapon … prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare … Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind” (Eph 6:13-18 TM). Perhaps you’d like to pray the following prayer to get you started: “Father, thank You for the blessings of my present job. As I suit up for work today, protect me, strengthen me, use me and bless me. Let me remain focused on You, allowing Your Word and Your presence to shield me from all contaminants such as pride, insensitivity, being short-tempered, and failure to show love. My worth comes from You, not my job, so I rest in the knowledge that You see all

I do and that my labor will not go unrewarded. Amen.” Ships sail on water, but if water gets in even a battleship will sink. So go through the waters of your work environment without allowing them to contaminate you. And be realistic in expecting what the job will deliver. Keep your focus on why you’re there, Who sent you, Who sees you, and Who’s pre-

paring you for greater things.



MONEY MATTERS

Rather than exercising financial discipline, the Bible says, “Fools spend whatever they get.” Here are some of their excuses: (1) “I’m okay, I’m making ends meet.” That’s like saying you feel great carrying too much weight. Debt is putting

a strain on you, whether you notice it or not. God says, “Pay all your debts” (Ro 13:8 NLT) , because when you’re over-

committed one financial slip can spell disaster. (2) “Interest rates are low, why worry?” Why? Because when rates increase-and they do–property values can decrease, and a hefty mortgage may mean owing more than your property is worth. Plus, when your debt-to-income ratio is too high it stops you from obtaining future credit. (3) “I plan to work till I drop.” What’ll happen if you can’t work? Instead of just working to payoff debt, put your money to work for you. The sooner you develop a wise investment strategy, the better. “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Pr 13:22 NIV). (4) “It’s my partner’s fault.” Money can fuel your best dreams or your worst nightmares. It’s the main reason couples argue, and the leading cause of divorce. Solomon says, “There is treasure .. .in the dwelling of the wise.” Freedom from financial pressure means that instead of always arguing about money, you can plan how to allocate it. So get on the same page, create a financial plan you can both live with-and involve God by honoring Him with a tithe of your income (See Mal 3:10). Having God’s input on your investments and His blessing on your finances, is the only way to go!



STAY IN TOUCH (2)

Finding time to pray every day will always be a challenge for you. That’s because prayer is a learned behavior; nobody

ever “masters” it. So:

(l )Start your day right. When you first wake up say, “Lord, thanks for giving me this day. Help me to rejoice and be “glad in it.” (See Ps 118:24). Then before other demands creep in, spend time in God’s Word. Let it lead you into meditation, then praise. One woman says she prays while she walks on her treadmill. She says, “I know those treadmill-prayers work because I’ve experienced the answers first-hand!”

(2) Tune in to visual clues. Use your daily activities as springboards to prayer. For example, whenever you meet somebody, silently ask God to bless them. When you’re showering, pray, “Lord, give me a clean heart and a right attitude” (See Ps 51:10). When your fellow workers act badly, pray, “Lord, make me an instrument of grace, a light where it’s dark.” Are these rituals? No! It’s how you “pray all the time.”

(3) Devise ways to stay focused. Ever notice how your mind wanders the minute you start praying? If that’s a problem try taking a note pad and jotting down the things that are distracting you. Once your mind is clear, say, “I’ll get to that later,” then talk to God. And remember, God wants to talk to you too, so sit still and listen. What He tells you will be more important than anything else you’ll hear that day. With a little planning and some commitment, you can “pray all the lime.” But you have to want to —do you?



STAY IN TOUCH (1)

Pray all the time. 1 Thessalonians 5: 17 TM

Pau says, “Pray all the time.” Why? Because whether you’re exercising, driving, shopping, or just sitting at your desk, God loves to hear from you-He really does. Author Cheri Fuller writes: “I used to think if I didn’t pray at a certain time each day, my prayers didn’t count. Then I discovered that Paul’s command to ‘Pray all the time,’ means more than just spending a lot of time on your knees; it means having constant communication with God, and an increasing awareness of His presence. This didn’t really sink in until my son left for college. Busy with his studies, he didn’t call home often. But when he did I’d drop everything just to hear his voice! Now I realize that God feels the same way about me, only 100 times more! I also noticed throughout the Bible God used short prayers to accomplish great things-like raising the dead and parting the Red Sea. Then it dawned on me that thoughts such as, ‘If I can’t pray for an hour, why bother?’ are foolish. It’s wonderful to have longer prayer sessions when I can, but knowing short prayers have a big impact, encourages me to pray throughout the day.” Here’s a remarkable thing: John writes, “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Rev 8: 1 NRS). Why? What were they listening to? John explains, “The prayers of the saints went up before God” (See Rev 8:4). Heaven stops to listen each time you pray. Think about that! Your thoughts, struggles, concerns and goals may not mean much to others, but they register with God and He responds to them.




 

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