Afternoons with Dan

Word For You Today

Keep It Ssssshhhhh

'When you give... don't shout about it!...' Matthew 6:2 NLT

Listen: 'When you give...don't shout about it as the hypocrites call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you they have received all the reward they will ever get' (Matthew 6:2 NLT). That means don't insist on having a plaque with your name on it because you gave a few dollars to a charity... you don't give to make yourself look good! Jesus shows the perfect way to give, '...when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing...and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you' (Matthew 6:3-4 NLT).

Give generously. Give gladly. But keep it ssssshhhhh! Your giving is nobody's business - it's just between you and God. If you broadcast your giving you immediately have your reward... 10 seconds of glory. But you give up the chance to receive something even better when you get to Heaven.

Listen: 'God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love which you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them [served others]' (Hebrews 6:10 NIV). That's a promise you can trust.

So what now? Next time you're in church, remember that you may be rubbing shoulders with some of the world's greatest givers - faithful people who have given, and given again, and told no one. Others may never know, but God will never forget. Be like them - give and keep it ssssshhhhh.

Soulfood: Dan 3-4, Luke 3:21-38, Ps 84, Prov 2:16-19


Make Your Life Count

'Let each one examine his own work...' Galatians 6:4 NKJ

Take a good look at your life and decide to make it count. It's scary to take risks and try new things. You think, 'What if I fail?' What if you do? It won't be your first mistake. And no matter how bad it is it probably won't be your worst. And, unless you fail at something really spectacular like attempting to climb Mount Everest or swimming the English Channel and die doing it, it probably won't be your last mistake. One thing you can count on, whatever happens, you'll grow up: in wisdom, experience and character. Basically, you'll be wiser for just having a crack at it.

Rick Warren who wrote Purpose Driven Life remembers: 'I could have taken a hundred gift and ability tests as a young man and would never have discovered that I was gifted at teaching, because I had never done it! It was only after I began accepting opportunities to speak that I saw the results, received confirmation from others and realised God has gifted me to do this.'

The road to success is never mistake-free. But then, neither is the road to failure. The choice is yours. That's why Paul writes, 'Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else...' (Galatians 6:4 NLT).

So what now? Unless you're willing to risk, you'll never know what could be. Take the risk on that dream. Make. Your. Life. Count.

Soulfood: Dan 1-2, Luke 3:11-20, Ps 81, Prov 2:11-15


Set Your Sails

'...That I may...become more deeply and intimately acquainted with him...' Philippians 3:10 AMP

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, a poet who lived over 100 year ago, wrote some famous words. The language is a bit old fashioned but check this out: 'One ship drives east and another drives west, with the selfsame winds that blow. 'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales, that decides the way to go...'Tis the set of the soul that decides its goal, and not the calm or the strife.' Have you noticed that a difficult circumstance can knock one person off their feet but make someone else stronger? 'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales, which tells us the way to go.'

Clearly, Paul had set his sails: 'That I may...become more deeply and intimately acquainted with him' (Philippians 3:10 AMP). Intimacy with God was his all-consuming goal. Is such a goal reached easily? No! Spiritual disciplines (eg. a change of attitude or behaviour) must be worked at until they become long lasting habits.

You need time and experience to get used to any new way of living. And, any change of behaviour must be wrestled with to bring discipline. However, with time, the habit will begin to settle in and become your consistent lifestyle. Looking back, you'll discover how you've changed.

So what now? Is there an area in your life where you need to set your sails in a new direction? Refuse to be hopelessly blown by the winds of impulse, circumstance or self-interest anymore. Ask Jesus to help you to set the sails and stay on the new course.

Soulfood: Judges 16:23-31, 2 Cor 12:3-11


A GodSlap

'The Lord corrects the people he loves...' Hebrews 12:6 CEV

Do you want to change? To grow up in God? Real change can't start until you understand first that God loves you as you are. You cannot earn his love and acceptance; you already have it - maybe you just don't know it yet!

Most of us think that if we accept ourselves as we are, we are excusing what's wrong in us. Wrong! You can't take God's correction properly until you have a clear understanding of his love for you. Otherwise you'll see his correction as rejection, his disapproval of your actions as disapproval of you. To grow up in God you need to believe that God is committed to you, and he will tell you when you're way off target and guide you along the best pathway for your life (see Psalm 32:8). His love is not wishy-washy - every now and again it may be tough love and you may get a God-slap!

The Apostle Paul was 100% convinced that nothing could ever separate him from God's love (Romans 8:39). Are you convinced? You need to be! In Revelation 3:19 (NLT), God speaks to each of us and says, 'I am the one who corrects and disciples everyone I love...' Evidence of God's love and approval of you is the fact that he convicts and corrects you! It's not his correction that should worry you; it's the absence of it!

So what now? If you feel like you've recently received a God-slap, get happy; it means God loves you and is growing you up in him!

Soulfood: Phil 1-4, Luke 3:1-10, Ps 79, Prov 2:9-10


Led by God 4

'For it is God who works in you...' Philippians 2:13 NIV

You can't put your life into compartments by saying, 'In this category I'm going to do things my way, but in that category I'm going to be led by God.' Every step you take must be synchronised with the beat of God's heart!

Listen: ' in you to will and to act according to his good purpose' (Philippians 2:13 NIV). God works through us as we engage our minds, open our mouths, move our feet and use our hands to do what he has already put into our hearts. The moment you say 'yes' to God He gives what you need to do what he asks. He doesn't show his will to you first then call you. No, he calls you, and as you move out and obey him then he shows it to you step by step, helping you as you go.

God is never content with the 'normal'! Never! Every day in different ways he will develop you into a greater God-carrier. You're not out for a stroll, you're on a mission. Again and again you will be given challenges and be put into situations that will mature you to the point where you have the same attitude, the same responses and the same desires as Jesus.

So what now? Realise that your walk with him is the only walk that will ever satisfy you or fulfil your purpose for being on this planet. When you start to understand that, walking with God will take on a whole new meaning. Choose to be led by him, 100%.

Soulfood: Lev 26-27, Luke 2:41-52, Ps 74:12-23, Prov 2:7-8


Led by God 3

'...he will direct your paths.' Proverbs 3:6 NLT

Here are some examples of when hearing God about something makes all the difference:

(1) Making future choices. When trying to decide what's next, look carefully at your options and ask God to make the right one clear. (2) Before you make a choice based on someone else's idea. Why? Because peoples' ideas aren't God's commands. Don't commit yourself to what you can't do and end up trapped by promises you can't fulfil. Be there for people, but be led only by God's Spirit. (3) When someone's being awkward. What people say can totally effect how we think. Don't make bad decisions because someone is manipulating you with their opinions or feelings. (4) At a tough time. Don't change your studies/work/relationships just because the going gets tough...take a minute and ask what God wants you to do. (5) When you're tempted. Don't just cruise along with the crowd. Often saying 'no' is the right answer. Think: 'Is this in tune with God's heartbeat?' (6) When you have popularity. A compliment is always nice but don't let it navigate your decisions. Flattery just inflates the ego and can make it tough to hear God clearly. Some people will be excited by your dreams because they don't have their own... but are you ready to carry passengers? It's wise to share your heart with people you know have a good relationship with God.

So what now? Got a decision to make? Shut out the outside noise, listen to what God says and be led by him first.

Soulfood: Lev 23:26 - 25:55, Luke 2:34-40, Ps 74:1-11, Prov 2:6


Led by God 2

'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life...' Psalm 32:8 NLT

Solomon says, 'Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails' (Proverbs 19:21 NIV). Even though your plans aren't perfect, if your heart's motive is right, God will make things work out for your good and his glory.

Are you having difficulty distinguishing your ideas from what he is saying? Most people struggle with that. God says: 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.' You say, 'That's nice, but I'd like a little more detail.'

Ok: (1) Ideas go away but God's direction stays. God moves at his (perfect) pace. There is persistence in his leading, that is why time is on your side. Do not rush ahead of him. (2) God's direction is impossible to follow without him. He plans it that way. Jesus said, '...without me you can do nothing' (John 15:5 NKJ). Stick close to him. (3) God's direction usually begins with discomfort. Listen: 'like an eagle stirs up its nest...The Lord...led him...' (Deuteronomy 32:11-12 NIV). Eagles learn to fly when their mum pushes them out of the nest. It's only when the eagle is forced out of its comfort zone that it discovers it was born to spread its wings and find its place in the heavens. Has God been stirring up your nest? Relax! He's leading you!

So what now? Looking to be led by God for your life? Then stay close to him and follow his lead. Take it one step at a time.

Soulfood: Lev 21:1 - 23:25, Luke 2:21-33, Ps 71:17-24, Prov 2:3-5

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