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RiverOL

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Consider the consequences
For reading & meditation: Nehemiah 6:9-13
"But I said, 'Should a man like me run away? ' I will not go!'" v.11)

We continue meditating on the fact that the psalmist, though filled with doubts about the goodness of God, nevertheless refrained from expressing those doubts to others. He carefully considered what effect his action might have on the family of God. Nothing that we do in life is without consequences. Someone has put it like this: "Every effect has a cause and every cause produces an effect."

Many of our difficulties in life arise from the fact that we forget the principle that consequences follow our actions. The devil often inveigles us into thinking that the situation we are in is an isolated event, and he gets us to believe that what we do, or are about to do or say, will have little or no effect upon others. He is exceedingly skilful at getting us to become preoccupied with the thing he puts before us. This one thing on which we focus then takes up our whole attention and we become oblivious of everything else, including the results that may follow our actions. Troubled though the psalmist was, in his heart he considered the consequences of his actions. And this is what Nehemiah did in the passage before us today.

A false "friend" came to him and told him that he should not risk his life. The proposition undoubtedly appealed to him, but Nehemiah considered the consequences and stayed where he was. If he hadn't, the whole course of Israel's history would have been changed. Believe me, this one principle alone - of carefully considering consequences - would be the means of saving us from endless difficulties if we were to take it and consistently apply it.

Prayer:
Father, how grateful I am that Your inspired Word teaches me the when next I am tempted. May I obey Your Word and not just hear it. In Christ's Name I pray. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Words of Honor

Outdo one another in showing honor—Romans 12:10

To honor someone is to build them up, to give them a sense of their worth. Prevailing culture teaches us our worth is weighed by worldly measures. And so, “honoring” becomes hero worship—elevating those good at projecting worldly success and marginalizing those of us with flawed lives, with failures in our past, or who are simply unable or unwilling to devote enough effort to convincing the world of our success. This type of “honoring” is not what God intends. We lead each other astray when we engage in it, because the focus is so wrong.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”(Colossians 3:2).

To honor someone as God intends is to build them up and give them a sense of their true worth. It’s trying to see them as God sees them. It’s pushing right through the confusion of worldly measures—successes, failures, talents, faults, wealth, poverty, titles, appearances—looking for evidence of what God has done in and through them, and what he’s doing currently. And, finally, most importantly, it’s telling them what we see. Our edifying, encouraging words to one another are gifts from God. He allows us to give them to one another . . . and we must.



Ask God to help you see those around you as he sees them. Look for how he’s working in and through them. And . . . then . . . tell . . . them. Tell them what you see. We men tend to struggle with the telling. We can be married for years, or in community with other men for years, and never simply tell those closest to us what we see in them. So, pick someone this week and tell them what you see. Honor them with a glimpse of his/her true worth.
 

RiverOL

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Heart-broken
Morning Encounter:
Read:
During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was king, I served him his wine, as I had done before. But this was the first time I had ever looked depressed. So the king said, “Why do you look so sad? You’re not sick. Something must be bothering you.”
Even though I was frightened, I answered, “Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! I feel sad because the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and its gates have been burned down.”
The king asked, “What do you want me to do?”
I prayed to the God who rules from heaven.Then I told the king, “Sir, if it’s all right with you, please send me back to Judah, so that I can rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
The queen was sitting beside the king when he asked me, “How long will it take, and when will you be back?” The king agreed to let me go, and I told him when I would return.
Nehemiah 2:1-6

Reflect:
Nehemiah had done pretty well out of a bad situation. He was living in exile but he had a job that essentially involved drinking wine before it was given to King Artaxerxes. True, he ran the risk of being poisoned, but so far, so good.
When the news came that his home city and the remnant of Israel who lived there were in a bad way, his heart was broken (1:4). He could have felt sad and left it at that, choosing to focus on what he had to be thankful for in his own situation, but instead, he risked everything to be able to go and do something to help. We can’t respond to every piece of bad news we hear. In an age of mass-media, we are exposed to disasters in every corner of the globe minute by minute. But every now and then, God will want us to be part of the solution.

Respond:
Lord, I am grateful for all the many ways you have blessed me. Show me how I can be your blessing to others. Amen.

Midday Meditation:
“Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me.
Break my heart my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity.”
(Hillsong United, Hosanna)

Evening Reflection:
“We dream the dream of justice. We glimpse, for a moment, a world at one, a world put to rights, a world where things work out, where societies function fairly and efficiently, where we not only know what we ought to do, but actually do it.”
 

RiverOL

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Say nothing unless it is helpful
For reading & meditation: Colossians 4:2-6
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt '" (v.6)

From what we have been seeing over the past few days, it is clear that although the psalmist was struggling with doubts about the goodness of God,he took a stand on something he knew to be right. He realised that if he were to speak as he was tempted to speak, the immediate consequence would be the hurt of God's people - so he chose to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. He was not sure about the goodness of God but he was sure it would not be right to be a stumbling-block to God's children - and he held on to that fact.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in one of his sermons: "When you are puzzled and perplexed the thing to do is to try and find something of which you are certain, and then take your stand on it. It may not be the central thing; that does not matter." Note the words: "it may not be the central thing". We can struggle in the midst of our doubts, waiting for some great revelation to hit us, and fail to apply the remedy that is immediately to hand. The psalmist saved himself from slipping by saying to himself: "My heart is full of uncertainties and I cannot say with conviction that God is good. But one thing I am certain of: it is wrong to hurt others because of my own doubts. Therefore I will say nothing." We should be careful about how we express our doubts to other Christians, especially those who are immature. This principle applies also to non-Christian friends, partners, or family members. If we can say nothing helpful we should say nothing at all. The psalmist determined to say nothing until he could say: "God is good to Israel." Then he was entitled to speak.

Prayer:
Gracious and loving God, I can do no better today than frame my prayer in the words of Your servant David: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips." Help me, my Father. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Never Bow Down
Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. —Daniel 3:6 NLT

The appointed day set aside to unveil Nebuchadnezzar’s image arrived. Off to one side of the king’s dais was a reminder of the punishment for failure to bow down: the ovens into which those who refused to bow would be thrown.
The trio of Hebrews in the king’s court had declared they could not bow—that Jehovah was their Lord and King; they would bow to no other. The king was infuriated by their answer. In vain, he ordered the musicians to play again. He then commanded the mightiest men in his army to bind the three men and toss them into the furnace. As the men who stood strong in His Name landed in the midst of the fire, Jehovah joined them, and as the fire lapped at the bindings of His servants, it lost the ability to devour.
Suddenly, the king’s triumph turned to fear. He grew pale as he lurched from the throne and pointed toward the all-consuming flames. He stuttered, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? … Look!… I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:24-25 NKJV).
Do you have the courage to do what is right…to refuse to forfeit your integrity?
 

RiverOL

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Push On
Morning Encounter:
Read:
Don’t have anything to do with worthless, senseless stories. Work hard to be truly religious. As the saying goes,
“Exercise is good
for your body,
but religion helps you
in every way.
It promises life
now and forever.”
These words are worthwhile and should not be forgotten. We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of everyone, but especially of those who have faith.That’s why we work and struggle so hard.

Teach these things and tell everyone to do what you say. Don’t let anyone make fun of you, just because you are young. Set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith, and purity.
Until I arrive, be sure to keep on reading the Scriptures in worship, and don’t stop preaching and teaching. Use the gift you were given when the prophets spoke and the group of church leaders blessed you by placing their hands on you. Remember these things and think about them, so everyone can see how well you are doing. Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you.
1 Timothy 4: 7-16

Reflect:
Growing in spiritual maturity and closeness to God can be a battle, and often the more in tune with God we are, the greater our awareness of how much further there is to go. A sense of uneasiness, or discontent, about where we are in our spiritual life may be uncomfortable, but it can be the spur we need to keep pushing forward. In this letter to the young church leader Timothy, Paul urges him to ‘work hard’ at being truly religious (v 7), to struggle (v 10). He is to keep reading the Scriptures to his church members, be careful about his life, watch his thoughts and actions and make sure he sets a good example. Godliness does not come about by accident- we must train for it, so that we are able to run flat out to the finish line to be welcomed into the arms of the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Respond:
What do you feel about the state of your spiritual life? Have you become complacent? Are you discouraged? Wherever you think you are, what difference might Paul’s encouragement to see working at the spiritual life in the same way as physical training make to how you go about the next few days?

Midday Meditation:
“With respect also to spiritual sloth, beginners are apt to be irked by the things that are most spiritual, from which they flee because these things are incompatible with sensible pleasure. For, as they are so much accustomed to sweetness in spiritual things, they are wearied by things in which they find no sweetness. If once they failed to find in prayer the satisfaction which their taste required (and after all it is well that God should take it from them to prove them), they would prefer not to return to it: sometimes they leave it; at other times they continue it unwillingly. And thus because of this sloth they abandon the way of perfection (which is the way of the negation of their will and pleasure for God's sake) for the pleasure and sweetness of their own will, which they aim at satisfying in this way rather than the will of God.”
(John of the Cross Dark Night of the Soul)

Evening Reflection:
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me,
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
 

RiverOL

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When you fall - others fall
For reading & meditation: Romans 14:5-13
"For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone." (v.7)

It seems almost unbelievable that the thing which stopped the psalmist's feet from slipping and sliding was not the awareness of his relationship with God but the awareness of his relationship with his brothers and sisters. It might not have been the highest spiritual principle he could have held on to, but it saved him from disaster. It is this matter - our relationship with one another - that Paul is speaking about in today's passage. You will be familiar, I am sure, with the passages in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 where Paul enlarges on this subject and where, in a remarkable statement, he says: "I mean for the sake of his conscience, not yours, do not eat it. For why should another man's scruples apply to me, and my liberty of action be determined by his conscience?' (1 Cor. 10:29, Amplified Bible).

He is saying, in other words, that you might see no need to refrain from eating meat offered to idols for your own sake, because your conscience is not offended, but what about your weaker brother for whom Christ also died? You see, "none of us lives to himself alone", so when next the devil tries to convince you that you are an isolated case and that what he is suggesting concerns you and you alone, quote this verse to him. We do not act in isolation; if you fall, you do not fall alone, the whole Church falls also. If nothing else can stop you from doing wrong, remember the people to whom you belong, remember you are part of a heavenly family, and that when you fall, others fall with you.

Prayer:
Father, drive deeply into my spirit this truth that I cannot act in isolation, for I am bound up with my redeemed brothers and sisters. Help me experience an ever-growing consciousness of this important fact. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Forgiving Offenses
Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! —Matthew 18:7 NKJV

You and I live in a less than perfect world. Rest assured, dear friend, you will be offended—it will come. The ideal response is to greet the offense with love and forgiveness.
Forgiveness begins with God, for His is the supreme pardon. It is seldom possible for man to forgive, but the Bible tells us that with God, “all things are possible”(Matthew 19:26 KJV).
"One of the secret causes of stress plaguing millions of people is unforgiveness,” says Dr. Don Colbert, MD. You and I must determine to avoid unforgiveness.
Just as a virus strikes a computer program and destroys it from within, so a lack of forgiveness can attack the body and cause physical and mental health problems. It is believed that stress levels rise when unforgiveness is harbored.
Refuse to lift and sip that poison. Choose instead to forgive. It can result in total healing of body, soul, and spirit.
 

RiverOL

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Push Your Buttons
Morning Encounter:
Read:
David asked some soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and stopping him from insulting our people? Who does that worthless Philistine think he is? He’s making fun of the army of the living God!”
The soldiers told David what the king would give the man who killed Goliath.

David’s oldest brother Eliab heard him talking with the soldiers. Eliab was angry at him and said, “What are you doing here, anyway? Who’s taking care of that little flock of sheep out in the desert? You spoiled brat! You came here just to watch the fighting, didn’t you?”
“Now what have I done?” David answered. “Can’t I even ask a question?” Then he turned and asked another soldier the same thing he had asked the others, and he got the same answer.
Some soldiers overheard David talking, so they told Saul what David had said. Saul sent for David, and David came. “Your Majesty,” he said, “this Philistine shouldn’t turn us into cowards. I’ll go out and fight him myself!”
“You don’t have a chance against him,” Saul replied. “You’re only a boy, and he’s been a soldier all his life.”

But David told him:
Your Majesty, I take care of my father’s sheep. And when one of them is dragged off by a lion or a bear, I go after it and beat the wild animal until it lets the sheep go. If the wild animal turns and attacks me, I grab it by the throat and kill it.
Sir, I have killed lions and bears that way, and I can kill this worthless Philistine. He shouldn’t have made fun of the army of the living God! The Lord has rescued me from the claws of lions and bears, and he will keep me safe from the hands of this Philistine.
“All right,” Saul answered, “go ahead and fight him. And I hope the Lord will help you.”
1 Samuel 17: 26-37

Reflect:
David was only on the front line of the battle to deliver food to his brothers. He was a young shepherd, not a warrior and he had every right to see what was going on, sympathise with the situation and walk away. But he couldn’t bear to see God’s army humiliated. The situation had been going on for forty days (1 Samuel 17:16). David was only around for three of those days, but it drove him crazy. His angst grew and grew, and he pushed until he was given permission to take action.
The temptation is to run from whatever makes us uncomfortable. But if we have the courage to stay, growing more and more uneasy, that is what will eventually tip us into the need to do something. And then God can work with us.

Respond:
David couldn’t stand to see God’s name mocked. What is it that pushes your buttons? What social, political or environmental wrong raises your blood pressure? Consider ways to increase your exposure to the situation and then see what happens.

Midday Meditation:
“Maybe we are a little crazy. After all, we believe in things we don't see. The Scriptures say that faith is "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1). We believe poverty can end even though it is all around us. We believe in peace even though we hear only rumours of wars. And since we are people of expectation, we are so convinced that another world is coming that we start living as if it were already here.”
(Shane Claiborne, The Irresitible Revolution)

Evening Reflection:
‘What wrecks the heart of someone who loves God is very often the very thing God uses to fire them up to do something that, under normal circumstances, they would never attempt to do.’
 

RiverOL

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Use everything you can
For reading & meditation: Zechariah 4
"Who despises the day of small things? '" (v.10)

Having followed the experience of the psalmist, who was saved from a spiritual fall by thinking of his brethren, we now ask ourselves: What does all this have to say to us? I think the answer to that question must be this: to stand is more important than to understand. We said a few days ago that the psalmist took his stand at a very low level on the scale of spiritual values. The principle he followed was this: "If I spread my doubts, I will harm my brethren." I am sure you and I could think of much higher spiritual principles with which to confront ourselves when tempted. What about the principle of reminding ourselves of the blessings of God in times past? Or actually talking to ourselves in the way the psalmist did in Psalm 42:5: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God '" . The psalmist employed none of these, but the one he did employ, low as it was on the scale of spiritual values, worked. And that is the point - use everything you can to stop yourself from falling, however small or insignificant it might appear to be. We are involved in spiritual mountaineering, where sometimes the slopes are like glass. When your feet slip you must reach out and hold on to anything that will stop you in your slide even though it be only a small branch. Stop and steady yourself. Don't concern yourself about climbing, just concern yourself with stopping your slide. Once you have stopped sliding you can then plan how to climb again.

Prayer:
Father, I see that when I am in danger of slipping it is better to take advantage of the smallest foothold than to slide into the depths of despair. Help me grasp the full importance and value of this. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Stay on the Vine
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. —John 15:5 NKJV

Someone once said, “If a cucumber is separated from the vine, it will end up in a pickle.” Funny analogy, but it is true in regard to our relationship with Jesus. If we want growth as Christians, we must be willing to be pruned, fertilized, and watered by a skilled gardener or husbandman.
If we allow that process in our lives, we will have the presence of the Master Gardener always with us. Diseased branches will be removed; the soil around our roots will be loosened. We will begin to be productive, and love will blossom and grow.
The presence of the Farmer will assure that we are never alone. He shares our lives; He abides with us, nourishes us, and strengthens us.
Ask Jesus today to remove that which is useless in your life, and you really can do everything through Christ who gives you strength.
 

RiverOL

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Make A Difference
Morning Encounter:
Read:
The Lord said:
I have seen how my people are suffering as slaves in Egypt, and I have heard them beg for my help because of the way they are being mistreated. I feel sorry for them, and I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians.
I will bring my people out of Egypt into a country where there is good land, rich with milk and honey. I will give them the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. My people have begged for my help, and I have seen how cruel the Egyptians are to them. Now go to the king! I am sending you to lead my people out of his country.
But Moses said, “Who am I to go to the king and lead your people out of Egypt?”
God replied, “I will be with you. And you will know that I am the one who sent you, when you worship me on this mountain after you have led my people out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3.7-12

Reflect:
Moses had become so overwhelmed with anger about his people’s oppression that he’d committed murder and had to flee (2.11-12). He’d taken a stand and it had been totally counterproductive. Now he was hiding out in Midian, a long way from the trouble.
But God was angry about the same thing, and with God on his side, Moses was about to take on Egypt and win. We often get riled up about situations God might see differently, but when our passions line up, nothing is impossible.

Respond:
Make a list of the sources of your discontent at the moment. Circle any you think God might see in the same way. Spend some time in prayer, asking God how he might want to work with you to bring about change.

Midday Meditation:
'I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.'
Mother Teresa
Evening Reflection:
God is wonderful and glorious. I pray that his Spirit will make you become strong followers and that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love. I pray that you and all of God’s people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep. I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.
I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.
(Ephesians 3: 16-21)
 

RiverOL

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Framework for generosity
For reading & meditation -Proverbs 11
"The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight." (v.1)

How do we go about establishing a framework for generosity? First - decide that nothing you possess is your own but that everything you have belongs to God. This puts God in His place and you in yours. You are now ready to manage His possessions, not as you like but as He likes. This is real freedom. It gives you a sense of accountability to another - God. You get your life orders not from a whim, a notion, self-impulse or whatever takes your fancy, but from the One who saved you and redeemed you. Second - go over your life and see what belongs to your needs and what merely belongs to your wants. Your needs are important - God has promised to supply them - but your wants? Ah, that is another thing.

You need as much as will make you fit - spiritually, physically and mentally - for the purposes of God while you are here on the earth. Beyond that, what you have belongs to the needs of others. How do you decide what belongs to your needs? No one can decide it for you - though they can make suggestions - for you are accountable to God. Go over your life item by item and ask Him for directions. Your family should figure prominently in your concerns, but you must check everything with the Lord. Third - fix it as an axiom in your mind that you will be generous to people, not for the good feelings that generosity brings, but because you are determined to bless them in some way. You must never be generous in order to get a blessing - you must be generous to be a blessing.

Father, I am thankful that the basis of my life is fixed in You and from that I am able to build a framework for generosity. From now on help me to give with all the stops out. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Want More Persevere(ability)?

Your adversary the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour—1 Peter 5:8


The ability to persevere—to remain strong and steadfast in the face of difficulties and delays and distractions—is a fundamental skill, necessary for any man choosing to devote himself to our King, Jesus Christ. He showed us how in the wilderness and against the temptations that followed (Matthew 4:1-11). Like him, we too must bear up against the pressures of the world, and not only for a while, but until the very end of our days. Though any one trial or temptation may be short lived, there’s always something out there capable of our destruction.

Preparedness is paramount. You see, when we’re unprepared and troublecomes (at work, in our relationships, our finances, our health) it takes us down: into anxiety, anger, bitterness, despondency, depression, isolation. When we’re unprepared and temptations come (material, carnal, moral) they too take us down: away from God and into sin. Compounding our lack of preparedness, the enemy is always quick with interference and misinformation.

“You won’t make it.”

“This’ll be long and difficult . . . too long, too difficult for you.”

“You’re alone, forgotten.”

“You won’t have strength enough to persevere.”

“You should just give-up/give-in now, and avoid the grief of waiting, just to give later.”




Perseverance isn’t innate; it’s learned. All of us can do it if we train. So, brother, manufacture some pressure and train yourself. Push your limits, physically, mentally, spiritually: climb a tough summit; tackle a hike of many miles; fast for a period of days; turn devices off and embrace quiet and solitude and prayer for an uncomfortable period. Remember, God designed you for perseverance. So, by training, you’ll simply learn what you’re made of (plus you’ll expose the lies of the enemy). It doesn’t take much to learn a whole lot about yourself.
 

RiverOL

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Comfortably Numb
Morning Encounter:
Read:
My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.
If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking. But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm. If you are that kind of person, you can’t make up your mind, and you surely can’t be trusted. So don’t expect the Lord to give you anything at all.
Poor People and Rich People

Any of God’s people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. But any who are rich should be glad when God makes them humble. Rich people will disappear like wild flowers scorched by the burning heat of the sun. The flowers lose their blossoms, and their beauty is destroyed. That is how the rich will disappear, as they go about their business.
Trials and Temptations
God will bless you, if you don’t give up when your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
James 1:2-12

Reflect:
The quest for contentment is sometimes a thinly disguised quest for a comfortable life. Which of us can put our hands on our hearts and say personal happiness isn’t one of our goals?
In the upside down Kingdom of God, we look at trouble and see it as an opportunity to strengthen our resolve. We see today in the perspective of eternity. We ask God for wisdom not for an easy escape route.
Yes, it is good to resist a craving for more, it is good to discipline ourselves to be grateful for what we have, it is good to be joyful. But we must never mistake lethargy and self-indulgence for contentment.

Respond:
Lord help me know when my discontent needs to become contentment. And take away my fear of discomfort so I can follow you with nothing held back, living the glorious life you promise. Amen.

Midday Meditation:
‘The promise of [Psalm 121]- and both Hebrews and Christians have always read it this way- is not that we shall never stub our toes, but that no injury, no illness, no accident, no distress will have evil power over us, that is, will be able to separate us from God’s purposes in us.’
(Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: discipleship in an instant society)

Evening Reflection:
‘God’s desire for us is that we should live in him. He sends among us the Way to himself. That shows what, in his heart of hearts, God is really like- indeed, what reality is really like. In its deepest nature and meaning our universe is a community of boundless and totally competent love.’
 

RiverOL

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Don't Give Life to the Past
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…—Philippians 3:13 NLT
The one who forgives pardons and moves on rather than constantly rehearsing the wrong done. He or she doesn’t hold on to past hurts and offenses and doesn’t hold pity parties or “poor little me” memorials. That only gives life to the past.
Unforgiveness is similar to walking a mile with a 100-pound weight on your back. The apostle Paul cautioned that we should “lay aside every weight.”
The subject of forgiveness cannot be complete without talking about forgiving yourself. You will never be able to move forward to a life of love and grace until you are able to forgive past mistakes. When allowed to fester, infection sets in and can eventually destroy you.
The Enemy uses unforgiveness as a stepping-stone to eat away at our faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is essential that you learn to forgive yourself for the sake of your spiritual health. Forgiving oneself is perhaps the hardest kind of Radical Forgiveness, but we must remember that Nehemiah wrote, “You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful” (Nehemiah 9:17 NRSV).
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
A Race and a Fight
Morning Encounter
Read:
You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. I keep my body under control and make it my slave, so I won’t lose out after telling the good news to others.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Reflect:
Advertising works by making people feel they are lacking something, by putting the idea in their head that buying this or that product would make things better. In the same way, the Christian life can be driven forward by a refusal to accept that where we are is good enough. Paul uses two metaphors here: a race and a fight. Neither allows for the possibility of settling down with a sigh of satisfaction to enjoy the view until the finish line or the final bell. Is your goal in sight? Is your body under control?

Respond:
Paul says we work hard ‘for a crown that will last forever’ (v 25). Meditate on what that means and ask God to give you a more vivid sense of what you are heading towards.

Midday Meditation:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour.
(Joel Houston, Matt Crocker, Salomon Lighthelm, Oceans)

Evening Reflection:
‘If all human strivings end in moral bankruptcy (and having tried it, we know it is so), and if righteousness is a gift from God (as the Bible clearly states), then is it not logical to conclude that we must wait for God to come and transform us? …. We do not need to be hung up on the horns of the dilemma of either human works or idleness. God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.’
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
Making the Right Choice
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
—1 John 4:8 ESV

After the death of Joseph, the son of Jacob, there arose a Pharaoh that persecuted and enslaved the Hebrew people. God gave Pharaoh ten chances to let His people go, and ten times Pharaoh hardened his heart toward God and refused—until the tenth and most deadly plague was sent. The first-born male in every Egyptian home was slain by the Death Angel, including Pharaoh’s son.
For every Hebrew son that had been drowned in the Nile River, an Egyptian boy died. For every Hebrew father who died at the oppressive hands of the overseers, an Egyptian father died.
Broken, Pharaoh released the children of Israel. But after they had gone, an angry, bitter Pharaoh gathered his terrified, demoralized troops and pursued the Hebrews. He led his army directly into the path of God’s wrath… because of the choice to curse God’s people rather than to bless them.
God has a protective hand upon you, child of God, because you are loved by the Lord of all creation!
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
Present to God
Morning Encounter:
Introduction
This week we are exploring the theme of practicing the presence of God. The phrase is often connected to a man called Brother Lawrence who longed to maintain an on-going, conversational relationship with God whether he was working in the kitchens or saying prayers in the chapel. To practice the presence of God is to live in deeper awareness of his activity in our lives.

Read:
When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.
(Genesis 5.21-24 NRSV)

Reflect:
Enoch doesn’t get a lot of air time in the scriptures. All we really notice about Enoch is that he lived a long time and then somehow he avoids death because God takes him away! What we should notice is that Enoch truly loved God. Twice in this short passage it says that Enoch ‘walked with God’. Walking with God is a metaphor for a consistent, intimate and constant relationship with God.

Respond:
Reflect on how you can make it your aim to consistently and intimately walk with God today. What might this mean for you?

Midday Meditation:
Author of the world walk with me
Ruler of the earth walk with me
Calmer of the storm walk with me
Healer of my heart walk with me

How I need You, how I need You
Oh Jesus, walk with me.
(Walk With Me – Jesus Culture)

Evening Reflection:
Direct me by your commands!
I love to do what you say.
Make me want to obey you, rather than to be rich. Take away my foolish desires, and let me find life by walking with you.
(From Psalm 119)
 

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Washing Dirty Feet
So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist… —John 13:4 NLT

The scene: The Lord’s Supper. In attendance: The disciples, including Judas.
When invited to a dinner, the lowest servant in the household drew the short straw and had to wash the dirty feet of the guests. We are not told why it was that as Jesus and the disciples arrived for the Passover meal, no one performed that odious task.

Because of that omission, Jesus had one more lesson to impart to his closest followers. Then the curtain is rolled back, and we see a stunning tableau as John 13:4 reveals his purpose: “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him”(NLT).
He even washed the feet of Judas, His betrayer! Would you do that—with love and humility, give comfort to your worst enemy?
 
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