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The Word For Today

You can change



'Put off...your former conduct...and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.' Ephesians 4:22-23 NKJV

Mind-sets are patterns whereby your mind automatically operates a certain way. That means you can set yourself up for misery by reacting to the same people and circumstances in the same way, yet expecting different results.Maybe you are saying: 'After all these years I thought he'd change...No matter how hard I try, my family doesn't appreciate me...How come I'm the only one who makes an effort to stay in touch?' It's easy to blame your problems on others - 'Look what he's doing. Look how long I've waited. Why doesn't she call?' We think the answer lies in getting the other person to do what we want, but that kind of thinking is self-defeating; it gives control to others. Your happiness isn't determined by other people, even though you've convinced yourself it is. An experienced counsellor writes: 'If you don't like the same results...try pushing a different button. Look at your relationships. Is there a situation that's going downhill despite your best efforts? Are you waiting for something to change, instead of doing something different? Stop pushing the same button, and ask God for clarity to see the situation honestly and to act with wisdom and responsibility.'You're not a victim of circumstances; you don't have to stay stuck or keep going round in circles. Paul says, 'Put off...your former conduct...and be renewed in the spirit of your mind' (Ephesians 4:22-23 NKJV). The word for you today is: You can change!

Soulfood: Gen 6:9 - 8:4, Matt 24:37-51

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Trust requires truth



'Don't lie to each other.' Colossians 3:9 NLT

Deception in a relationship destroys trust and respect. One lie or one act of betrayal can cause a wound that takes years to heal, and in some cases is never healed at all.The person who hides something is basically selfish, protecting their own interests. They care little about the feelings of the other person. There's nothing shallower than empty words and lying clich?s that have no real meaning. They are people who coerce others into a sexual relationship by claiming they love them. Deception at this level is emotional rape! It's a terrible feeling to be used by someone. The deceiver may continually promise that they will leave their spouse, and the victim holds on to hope. But it never seems to come true. They make every kind of excuse possible for taking advantage. When victims are vulnerable, they follow blindly along until the relationship has gone so far that they are trapped.As a sinner, you may have been excused for acting this way, but not as a redeemed child of God. 'Don't lie to each other' (Colossians 3:9 NLT). When someone has given you their trust, they've given you a priceless gift; don't abuse it. And if your trust has been betrayed, confront it head-on. Though you may love the person, back off until they show clear signs of repentance and a willingness to make amends. And don't give up hope. Sometimes good people make bad choices. If you work at it, and seek God's help, it's possible to restore the trust you've lost and maybe even end up with a better relationship.

Soulfood: Deut 1-2, Matt 4:12-25, Ps 2, Prov 11:22-23

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Speak well of them



'Do good to those who hate you.' Luke 6:27 NKJV

When General Robert E. Lee was asked by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to give his opinion about a certain officer, he gave a glowing report. One of the officers in attendance was amazed at his words and said to Lee, 'General, do you know that the man of whom you speak so highly to the President is one of your bitterest enemies, and never misses an opportunity to criticise you?' Lee said, 'Yes, but the President asked my opinion of him. He didn't ask for his opinion of me.'It takes character, compassion and courage to speak well of a critic. But when you do, three good things happen: (1) You increase your own value. You show you're able to rise above criticism by bestowing praise on another. (2) You defuse your enemy's criticism of you. When people hear your praise of a critic and their disdain for you, their respect for you rises and they see you in a different light. (3) People see you as fair-minded and generous. It takes very little effort to respond in kind to a critic, but it takes Christlike character to turn the other cheek and bless them.Jesus said: 'Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also...And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' (Luke 6:27-31 NKJV). You say, 'That's a high standard.' It's the one Jesus set, practiced throughout his life, and is calling you to live by today.

Soulfood: Acts 27-28, Matt 4:1-11, Ps 35, Prov 11:19-21

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Go by the book



'Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.' Hebrews 10:35 NKJV

How long should you keep praying and believing God for the answer? Until he tells you differently. In other words, go by the book! 'Do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise' (Hebrews 10:35-36 NKJV). Many of God's promises have timelines, and you need long-distance faith to receive them. The word endurance pictures a runner determined to reach the finish line.You say, 'But I'm not sure what God's will is.' His will is revealed in his Word, and that's what you must believe and speak over your situation. To say otherwise is to contradict God. Abraham stood on God's promise that he'd be the father of many nations when there wasn't a shred of evidence to prove it. For twenty years he looked up into the night sky believing, 'Lord, you said my children would be as numerous as the stars. I don't know how you're going to do it for I'm a hundred years old and my wife, Sarah, is ninety. But I'm going to believe you anyway.' When you pray that way, you risk looking foolish in the eyes of others. But receiving the miraculous often involves looking ridiculous, like Jesus telling the disciples to fill wine pots with water or rubbing clay in a blind man's eyes. But the guests at the wedding in Cana drank the finest wine, and the blind man went home seeing. Why? Because they obeyed the word Jesus gave them.So the word for you today is: Go by the Book.

Soulfood: Acts 24-26, Matt 3:1-17, Ps 94:12-23, Prov 11:16-18

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God will make it up to you

'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.'Joel 2:25 NIV

Kristine Steakley writes: 'Loss can make us feel forsaken and utterly destroyed...For many divorce meant leaving the house we grew up in, our neighbourhood, our friends, our school...even our church because we were ashamed and heard condemnation from those who should have been concerned for our souls. To use Joel's metaphor, locusts ate our family; more locusts ate our friendships...and still more ate our church...But God promised, "Never again will my people be shamed" (Joel 2:26 NIV). I can't tell you what restoration will look like...or when it'll happen. Some of us will see relationships with parents and siblings mended...others will build great marriages and loving families...and some may have to wait for Heaven where all wrongs will be righted, all wounds healed, all tears wiped away.'

Kristin Armstrong says: 'Resist the temptation to despair or delve into disappointment. You may feel like you've forfeited years, opportunities, finances and a significant return on investment of self. But hear the fantastic promise of redemption: "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25 NIV). No one on earth can make anything up to you. No one can pay. No one can set things right or make things fair. Pressure and manipulation won't bring justice. So let it go and let God fill your life with new blessings. If you're full of resentment and wrath, he can't find space for his gifts. God will make it up to you if you keep an expectant attitude of faith, and thank him that his promises are yours.'

SoulFood: Acts 22-23, Matt 2:13-23, Ps 94:1-11, Pro 11:14-15

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The wonder of grace



'For by grace you have been saved through faith.' Ephesians 2:8 NRS

Some of us live as if God has a big performance chart with our name on it, and at the end of each day he grades us to determine if he will love us more, or less, or at all. You say, 'If I were God, some days I wouldn't love me.' Then be glad you're not God, and we'll all be twice as glad - or we'd all be sunk!God does not save us by grace and then base how he feels about us on our spiritual performance. The Bible says, "God...out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved' (Ephesians 2:4-5 NRS). The wonder of grace is that you are chosen, you are wanted, and God desires you for his family. By grace you have been made alive to God. You have strength to endure, power to serve, a reason to hope and death has no hold over you. God took your indebtedness and guilt and nailed it to the cross. He erased the bill; he destroyed the I.O.U. and set you free. Unburdened. Cleansed. Today you can live with a heart as light as a feather - no matter what you did yesterday.The truth is that no one in Heaven will ever boast, 'Look what Jesus and I did.' No, when Jesus cried from the cross, 'It is finished' (John 19:30), God wrote 'Paid in full' over every sin you would commit - all the way from the cradle to the grave. This is the wonder of grace.

Soulfood: Acts 18-19, Matt 1:18-25, Ps 144:1-8, Prov 11:10-11

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Unmoved by any circumstance



'Those who trust in the Lord are...unmoved by any circumstance.' Psalm 125:1 TLB

By age 29, author Carson McCullers had suffered three strokes. Then while she was still crippled and partially paralysed, her husband committed suicide. Despite her problems she forced herself to write every day, and as a result became a distinguished novelist. The English poet John Milton was blind. World-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman had polio. Former Miss America Heather Whitestone is deaf. Stephen Hawking, physicist and lecturer at Cambridge University, has Lou Gehrig's disease. No wonder Thomas Edison said if we did all the things we were capable of doing, we'd astound ourselves!So, what's the secret to enduring and enjoying life? It's this: 'Those who trust in the Lord are...unmoved by any [did you get that - any] circumstance' (Psalm 125:1 TLB). Despite how you feel today, your problems aren't insurmountable. The Bible says, 'God can do what men can't' (Luke 18:27 TLB). And what's more, he listens to 'the prayers of the destitute...he is never too busy' (Psalm 102:17 TLB). Einstein said, 'In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.' The same God who guided Abraham when he didn't have a clue where he was going, gave Sarah a child in her old age, rolled back the Red Sea and raised Jesus from the dead, is alive and working in your life.So 'be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might' (Ephesians 6:10 NKJV). Remember, his chariots of deliverance 'are...thousands and thousands of thousands' (Psalm 68:17 NIV). Today take heart! 'The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you' (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT).

Soulfood: 2 Chron 7:12-16, Matt 6:5-15, Luke 18:1-8, Luke 18:1-8

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Be an encourager



'Anxiety in the heart...causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.' Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

When Enrico took his first voice lesson at ten, the teacher said, 'You haven't any voice at all.' But Enrico's mother heard greatness in her son's voice. She believed in his talent. And even though they were very poor she put her arms around him and said, 'My boy, I'm going to make every sacrifice to pay for your voice lessons.' Her confidence in him and her constant encouragement paid off, because he became one of the most beloved and widely acclaimed singers of all time. His name? Enrico Caruso.When the world tries to tear us down, we need people who build us up, people who recognise our talent and help us make the most of it. Consider these 'commands for parents,' written from a child's point of view: (1) My hands are small; please don't expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a picture or throw a ball. (2) My legs are short; slow down so that I can keep up with you. (3) My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; let me explore it safely, and don't restrict me unnecessarily. (4) Housework will always be there; I'm only little for a short time. Take time to explain things to me about this wonderful world, and do so willingly. (5) My feelings are tender; don't nag me all day long. Treat me as you would like to be treated. (6) I am a special gift from God; treasure me as God intended you to - holding me accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by, and disciplining me in a loving manner.Today, be an encourager!

Soulfood: Acts 16-17, Matt 1:1-17, Ps 7:10-17, Prov 11:7-9

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You must go through the fire



'I have refined you...for my own sake.' Isaiah 48:10,11 NKJV

Undercover Boss is a popular TV show where company owners disguise themselves as regular staff members and work with everybody else. Some of the discoveries they make are real eye-openers - leading to changes that make the company more efficient, profitable and enjoyable for everybody to work in.To 'understand' people, you have to 'stand' in their shoes. Ezekiel said, 'Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib...and I sat where they sat, and...the word of the Lord came to me' (Ezekiel 3:15-16 NKJV). In order to heal the pain, you must be able to feel the pain. The Bible says Jesus can be 'touched with the feelings of our infirmities,' because he walked in our shoes (See Hebrews 4:15). He experienced family conflict, rejection, betrayal, loneliness and hunger. He walked the path you're on and he knows how you feel; that's why you can turn to him when you're in trouble and get the help you need. 'For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted' (Hebrews 2:18 NKJV). When you offer advice, people want to know if you're speaking out of experience or just head knowledge. So God will permit you to go through experiences you don't enjoy or understand, to equip you and make you effective in ministering to others. Job said, 'When he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold' (Job 23:10 NKJV).If you're in the refiner's fire today, it's because God has something he plans to do through you and for you.

Soulfood: Acts 14-15, Luke 24:50-53, Ps 7:1-9, Prov 11:3-6

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Be proactive



'How long will you neglect to go and possess the land?' Joshua 18:3 NKJV

When it comes to building good relationships, you must be proactive. This calls for knowing who you are as a person, and what you want from the relationship. While it seems counterintuitive to focus on who you are individually versus who the two of you are as a couple, the whole is only as strong as the parts. Great relationships are based on each party being truthful and up-front about their real needs, desires, feelings and values. While as a couple you must make decisions together, decisions about who you are as a person and what you want your life to be are yours alone to make. Allowing someone else to make those decisions for you is a mistake. When you let someone else decide who you are and what you want, you give away the power that God gave you.Understand this: (1) Doing nothing is not making a decision. (2) Sitting back and pretending not to see a situation for what it is, is not a decision. (3) Procrastinating about what to do until something happens where you've no choice but to go one way or the other is not a decision. It's passivity, and in the end it won't serve you well.Sometimes you have to accept unchangeable circumstances, but you always have the choice to decide what you want to be within them. This principle is taught clearly by what God told his people on the threshold of the Promised Land: 'How long will you neglect to go in and possess the land which the Lord ...has given you' (Joshua 18:3 NKJV)? So, be proactive.

Soulfood: Acts 12-13, Luke 24:45-49, Ps 16, Prov 11:1-2

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