Workdays with Eloise

Word For You Today

Little Foxes

'Catch... the little foxes that ruin... our vineyards...' Song of Songs 2:15 NIV

In the Old Testament, Solomon discovered that it's 'the little foxes' that were ruining the vineyards. They seemed harmless enough but they were digging holes and generally wrecking the place.

In the story of Esther, King Xerxes hires his best mate Haman to be Prime Minister and gives him serious power. Esther was a Jew who had been chosen to be Queen because of her beauty. Esther's Uncle Mordecai worked in the palace and, as a Jew, he refused to bow to Haman as Haman had demanded. Haman was so angry with Mordecai that he convinced Xerxes to kill all the Jews, by pretending they were a threat. In the end Esther was able to save her people by showing the King what sort of monster Haman really was. Haman was a 'little fox' in Xerxes' vineyard. Xerxes hadn't realised it but Haman had sneakily wheedled his way in and caused a lot of damage!

There are 'little foxes' in all our lives, small things that creep in and seem totally harmless but at the end of the day they could destroy you if you don't deal with them. The foxes can be attitudes, habits, people, relationships, thoughts, feelings, places you shouldn't go, TV you shouldn't watch, websites you shouldn't be on; all these can seem harmless.

So what now? Ask God to show you today what 'little foxes' are in your life, that need taking care of before it's too late. Ask him to give you the strength and wisdom to know how to deal with them in the right way.

Soulfood: Lev 24:17-22, Deut 15:7-11, Matt 5:38-48, Matt 5:38-48


God is Waiting for You

'The Lord is close to everyone who prays to him...' Psalm 145:18 NCV

Listen: One day a couple of youth workers were chatting to some kids on the street about Jesus and the way he heals. Excited, the kids decided to give this healing thing a try and invited the youth workers to go with them to meet their 'friend'. The youth workers were well up for it until they realised they had been taken to the scariest criminal on an inner-city estate who was struggling to walk. An audience of 50 or so local youth and criminals gathered to see the 'show' and whether God really could heal. Wondering how they ended up there, the terrified workers cried out to God and he answered them. The man walked.

God's help and healing is always available, but it flows more strongly towards those who really go after it. You get nothing sat around watching TV all day. God loves radical, on the edge, risk-taking faith.

If you really want to see God at work, take some chances for him today!

So what now? Maybe all you have today is a belief that God wants to help and a hope that he will. Maybe you feel like all you have to offer Jesus is your pain. Perhaps your past has kept you from coming to him before. Wherever you are at, come to him. God loves seeds of faith, no matter how small. Step out, trust him, take some action and get ready to give him all the praise. He may not always respond the way you expect but you're guaranteed a good answer!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 24-25, Luke 18:18-30, Ps 116:1-11, Prov 8:8-9


Get Out of the Way Ego

'...Humble yourselves... that he may exalt you...' 1 Peter 5:6 NKJ

Have a think today about how you see yourself. Is it a good image or a bad one? Our egos (thinking we're top dog) can get in the way of God's blessing. It's hard to stay humble when we think a lot of ourselves. It's hard to stay humble when others tell us we've done a great job or we look great or we've achieved something brilliant. On the other hand, it's hard to be confident if we feel we have failed or we're not good enough or we don't look the way we want.

The Bible says we are to 'humble ourselves'. When Jesus was born, the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and earth, humbled himself and made himself a mere human - not to be served but to serve! Jesus knew who he was yet he served his disciples; he even washed their smelly feet! He was a humble servant yet totally confident, because he knew who his Father was. Do you know who your Father is?

Despite what many think, being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself or talking yourself down or pretending you're no good at something. True humility means you simply think of yourself less often.

So what now? When you put your ego and personal motives aside, you'll be free: to serve and love others, help people, be friends with them, put their needs before yours. Why? Because that's exactly what Jesus did, and he came to be your example!

Soulfood: 2 Ki 21-23, Luke 18:1-17, Ps 19, Prov 8:6-7


Be a JoyCarrier

'...the fruit of the spirit' Galatians 5:22 NIV

Have you ever met one of those people who seem bubbly and full of joy all the time? How do they do that? Most of us stress about one or more of these: being late for school or work, putting on weight, forgetting homework, getting a spot, doing things perfectly! You name it - we all get stressed - and then we may start complaining to God! The problem is, we forget that God never promised us a trouble free life. What he did promise is that he'll be with us through the troubles and make us stronger.

So, if life is not supposed to be trouble free, how can we have this joy Jesus promised? (1) Realise that you're stressed because life is not going quite the way you've decided it should be; (2) Don't worry about things you have no control over. If you can't change it, accept it and move on; (3) Don't expect every day to be fantastic.

Problems - great and small - will help you grow. Even try to thank God for them when they come along and ask him how they can be used for good! If you try to find the good in everything, life will seem much better.

So what now? Rather than fighting life, flow with it. As you relax, you'll enjoy life far more. That's why Paul wrote, 'Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus' (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT).

Soulfood: 2 Ki 18:17 - 20:21, Luke 17:20-37, Ps 11, Prov 8:4-5


Take Care of the Little Stuff

'...If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?' Jeremiah 12:5 NLT

So you're facing a giant, and everything is just too much and you want to give up. One question: Is the giant really real and really that big, or are you just letting the little stuff pile too high? Jeremiah freaked out when he saw his people panicking about little things. '...If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan' (Jeremiah 12:5 NLT)?

You need to win small victories every day to learn how to handle the big stuff. It may be refusing that extra chocolate bar or biting your tongue when your mum asks you to wash up. It's the small battles that prepare you for the big ones. Before you run a marathon you have to run a mile. Training is hard work. Instead of feeling guilty that you didn't get up at 5am to start the day in five hours of prayer, try ten minutes and keep going. Instead of feeling bad that you haven't read the Bible cover to cover, pick a chapter or psalm that's appropriate for where you're at and read it over each day until you totally get it.

It's your 'all or nothing' attitude that's holding you back. Go back to basics; take care of the little stuff.

So what now? Write down one habit/attitude you need victory in... just one. Write down a step-by-step plan to conquer it. Take care of the little stuff first.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 16:1 - 18:16, Luke 17:11-19, Ps 115, Prov 8:1-3


Can You Say That

'...I am with you always, even to the end of the age...' Matthew 28:20 NKJ

His body is buried at Westminster Abbey but his heart (literally) remains in Africa. When Robert Livingston, a missionary doctor, died, the Africans removed his heart and buried it in the land he loved. When he died, they found him in prayer with his Bible opened to Matthew 28. Beside verse 20 he'd written: 'The word of a gentleman.' Livingston could easily have lived comfortably in his native Scotland. His arm was paralysed from a lion attack, he'd suffered 27 bouts of jungle fever and was exhausted from battling slave traders. What kept him in Africa? Addressing the University of Glasgow, Livingston said, 'What sustained me amidst the trials, hardships and loneliness of my exiled life, was the promise of a gentleman of the most sacred honour: it was this promise, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20 NKJ). People talk about the sacrifice I've made. But can it be called a sacrifice when it's simply paying back a small part of a great debt I owe to God? A payment that brings peace of mind and the hope of a glorious destiny? It is no sacrifice; it is a privilege!' As a man cried openly at his funeral, a friend asked if he'd known Livingston personally. He said, 'I weep not for Livingston, but for myself. He lived and died for something, I have lived for nothing.'

So what now? Livingston's motto was, 'I place no value on anything I have, except in its relationship to the Kingdom of God.' Can you say that?

Soulfood: 2 Ki 13-15, Luke 17:1-10, Ps 26, Prov 7:26-27


Names are Important

'...I will...give...each one...a new name...' Revelation 2:17 CEV

Names are important. Napoleon knew the names of thousands of his soldiers. University President Charles E Eliot knew the name of every individual student. The Bible is filled with people whose new names had special significance, like Simon renamed Peter, Jacob renamed Israel, and Saul whose name was changed to Paul. Even Mary got told to call her new baby 'Jesus'. God's big on names. In Revelation, he says that he'll give us all 'a new name' Revelation 2:17 CEV).

Have you ever had someone important unexpectedly remember your name? It's a great feeling. When you meet new people it's not by accident; God planned it.

If you're not great with names, rather than apologising for being 'hopeless with names,' how about making a real effort to remember them? It can make a real difference to making someone feel you care. Here are three ways to help you remember: (1) When you're introduced to someone, repeat their name. Using someone's name straight away helps it to sink in; (2) Association - link the name to something or someone with the same name. Think of something it reminds you of or rhymes with, eg. Kelly and Jelly! (3) Introduce them to others using their name and repeat it to yourself.

So what now? Use people's names when you're talking to them: those who serve you at the supermarket, friends at school or work, your closest family. Watch them respond differently. People are important, therefore their names are too.

Soulfood: 2 Ki 10-12, Luke 16:19-31, Ps 24, Prov 7:24-25

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