Nights with Jon E

The Word For Today

Jesus doesn't condemn he cleanses

'Go. From now on sin no more.' John 8:11 NAS

The Bible says: 'The Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery...they said to [Jesus]..."in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.' Jesus replied: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her"...When they heard it, they began to go out one by one...Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more"' (John 8:3-11 NAS).Notice two things: (1) Those least qualified to condemn you, will. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. They made a practice of lifting themselves up by putting others down. Their aim that day was to trap him by exposing her. Steer clear of modern-day Pharisees! Find your friends among those who've been redeemed by grace, and know how to extend it to others. (2) The one most qualified to condemn you, won't. Stay close to him. When you do, you'll discover your scars aren't permanent and you'll recover much more quickly. Christ will meet you in your dark places and heal the wounds of your past because his grace is greater than your shame. Where sin abounds - his grace super-abounds! There's no limit to the depth of shame he can see us through, because there's no limit to the grace he can supply.Today, if you're feeling the weight of your shameful past and sinful ways, come to Jesus. He's ready to forgive you and set you free. But his invitation to freedom reads 'R.S.V.P.'

Soulfood: Acts 1:1 - 3:10, Luke 23:13-25, Ps 127, Prov 10:19-21


God is at work in your circumstances

'[His power] at work within [carry out his purpose].' Ephesians 3:20 AMP

Jon Walker writes: 'We manage time, waste time, spend time and save time. We wish it would come...we wish it would pass...we see time fly...we feel it drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars...yet God controls time. He created time, and his creations are fenced by his time, directed and guided by his loving hand. We're surprised by unexpected developments, but God is never surprised by even the most disastrous turn of events. And your outlook on life changes dramatically when you know that at this very moment God is working within you "to carry out his purpose." Think about how you'd live if you were absolutely certain God was at the end of your deadline. That even if there were mere seconds left, you believed with certainty he was working through your circumstances. Believing God is there and about to provide is the essence of faith. " the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 NLT). Time can't diminish his love or his power to work within your life. He was there in the past; he's present in the now, and he'll be there in the future. The truth is, for God, "a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours" (Psalm 90:4 NLT). And his ultimate goal is to bring you into eternity, not just get you through to the end of the week.'Remind yourself that, in every situation, '[His] at work within [carry out his purpose and] do superabundantly...above all that we [dare] ask or think...[beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams].'

Soulfood: Joel 1-3, Luke 23:1-12, Ps 43, Prov 10:17-18


Be willing to learn from others

'Happy is the man who finds wisdom.' Proverbs 3:13 NKJV

Certain people can make us feel 'less than' when we're in their company, but truly wise and mature people never try to do that. If you've had a bad experience with this, don't allow it to drive you back in defeat. If you don't stand near a ruler, you won't be able to measure your growth or monitor how much you've developed. Whatever successful people know, they haven't always known it - they had to learn and grow too. So don't pretend you know what you don't know. It's best to speak genuinely and sincerely, asking questions when appropriate.Most successful people enjoy a chance to discuss and share what they know, so take advantage of this. Fear of rejection keeps us from going forward in life and in relationships. You'd be surprised how many people limit themselves to socialising only with those who are comparable to them. They feel uncomfortable the moment they're surrounded by people who are different from them. An important part of your development occurs when you decide to cross the tracks and relate to people who are ahead of you in some way. These relationships create a chance for you to grow.It's not wrong to lack knowledge; it's wrong to be unwilling to learn. Joshua learned the principles of good leadership from Moses. Ruth learned how to find the right relationship by listening to Naomi. Make this Scripture a guiding principle of your life: 'Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding' (Proverbs 3:13 NKJV).

Soulfood: Ex 12:1-14, Mk 14:12-26, Ps 69:7-21,


Were you really 'born that way'

'I was... sinful from the time my mother conceived me.' Psalm 51:5 NIV

Whether your struggle is with alcohol, drugs, sex, anger, gossip, unforgiveness, stealing, lying or gambling, one thing's certain - we are all born with a propensity toward certain behaviours. So it's not a genetics issue, it's a spiritual issue. It's not about science, it's about sin. Any of us might find ourselves struggling with these issues - not because we inherited a gene for it, but because we inherited Adam's fallen nature the day we were conceived.David said, 'I was born guilty. I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.' Solomon said there are no exceptions: 'Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins' (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT). So the answer is yes, we were all 'born that way.' The reason these behaviours come naturally to us is not because we 'can't help being the way we are'; it's because our sin nature is stronger than our desire to please God. Even when we try, at times we lose the fight! Paul, the greatest of Christians, admitted to failing when he tried to do right. 'I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out' (Romans 7:18 NIV).So if we are all born that way, what's the good news? Paul gives it to us: 'Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 7:24-25 NLT). When you were born you received Adam's corrupt nature, but through the new birth you receive Christ's sin-conquering, life-changing, righteous nature!

Soulfood: Jer 51-52, Luke 22:63-71, Ps 56, Prov 10:14-16


You're qualified for the job

'God has chosen.' 1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV

People are often drawn to us because of our difference, not our similarity. So don't fail them by downplaying the things God has given you that qualify you to meet their needs. The disciples didn't blend in, they stood out, and the world they lived in took note that 'they had been with Jesus' (Acts 4:13 NKJV). They preached his message, used his methods and demonstrated his miracles. At Antioch they were first called 'Christians' (Acts 11:26). That's because they talked and acted so much like Christ. What a compliment! What a calling! What a challenge!Because a cleaning lady told a Syrian general about her God, he was healed of leprosy (See 2 Kings 5). Because Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams when others couldn't, he saved the world from famine (See Genesis 41). Because a boy offered Jesus what he had - five loaves and two fish - a multitude of hungry people was miraculously fed (See Mark 6:34-44). When it comes to hiring, personality profiling is a useful tool for discovering someone's suitability for a job. But it's different in God's Kingdom. When God calls you, he equips you. Do you think you're not qualified? Who told you that? Not God! His Word says: 'God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise...the weak put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things...which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence' (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NLT).So, the word for you today is - you're qualified for the job!

Soulfood: Mt 21:1-16, Mk 11:1-11, Ps 118:19-29, Ps 118:19-29


Simplifying doesn't have to be complicated

'Do not worry about your life.' Matthew 6:25 NKJV

Thoreau said, 'Our lives are frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify.' Jesus put it another way: 'Do not worry about your life...the birds...neither sow...reap nor gather into barns...yet your...Father feeds them' (Matthew 6:25-26 NKJV).Charlie Shedd pastored a large church with many demands. He and his wife created a simplicity list: Make sure you need to simplify. Your problem may be inertia...because you aren't doing enough. Selfishness never simplifies - it complicates. Remember why you're here. Put God's will first. You unclutter by having a pivotal purpose on which your life swings. Drop useless goals. Don't wear yourself out on meaningless pursuits. You frustrate yourself by dedicating your life to the unimportant. You can't do everything. If God intended you to be six people, he'd have divided you up! Leave some 'world building' to others. Live one day at a time. Plan and hope for the future - but don't live there. 'Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34 NIV). Live well today and tomorrow's strength will come. Wherever you are - be there. Stop thinking happiness comes at five o'clock, or at the evening's party, or when you fall asleep. Live in the present. Develop a hobby. A change of activity keeps you fresh. Time spent playing is time well spent. You can't slow the world, so slow yourself. Learn to gear down. When you can't alter the pace, retire to the inner sanctuary and alter yourself. Adopt the perfect pattern: Christ...whose life cut history squarely in two. Follow him as he lives a mighty life in quiet confidence. 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 2:5 NKJV).

Soulfood: Jer 49-50, Luke 22:54-62, Ps 50:16-23, Prov 10:11-13


Be a uniter not a divider

'How dwell together in unity!' Psalm 133:1 NKJV

David said, 'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity...there the Lord commanded the blessing' (Psalm 133:1,3 NKJV). When we strive to work together in spite of our differences, God 'commands' his blessing to be upon our efforts. Satan knows this, so his chief strategy is to divide and conquer. He knows the power, synergy and blessing that results from working in harmony; therefore, he makes every effort to bring division. So when things begin to splinter and fall apart, look for 'the devil in the details.'The sixth chapter of Proverbs lists seven things the Lord detests; among them is 'a man who stirs up dissention' (Proverbs 6:19 NIV). Paul says, 'Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace' (Ephesians 4:3 NIV). (He knew that sometimes it required tremendous effort). We can't afford to be ignorant of Satan's tactics designed to keep us at odds with one another. He'll cause you to become offended over a harmless statement, or read more into a comment than the speaker intended, or ascribe impure motives to someone's behaviour, or believe a lie. But when you pray and seek God, he'll reveal the truth of the situation.'He himself is our peace' (Ephesians 2:14 NKJV), and when we embrace him, he directs us into peaceful resolution of our issues. In fact, our conflicts can become stepping stones to stronger relationships when we make a commitment to understand each other and refrain from divisiveness. That's why Paul writes, 'I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose' (1 Corinthians 1:10 TLB).

Soulfood: Jer 45-48, Luke 22:39-53, Ps 50:1-15, Prov 10:8-10


Overcoming bad memories

'Do not...ponder the things of the past.' Isaiah 43:18 NAS

To overcome bad memories, you must: (1) Reframe them. Looking back, Joseph said, 'You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good' (Genesis 50:20 NAS). (2) Reject them. The next time a bad memory resurfaces, refuse to entertain it. 'Do not...ponder the things of the past' (Isaiah 43:18 NAS). (3) Refocus your thoughts. 'Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead' (Philippians 3:13 NKJV).You say, 'I can't help remembering.' If you can recall your troubles, you can recall your blessings. The most effective way to overcome bad memories - is to replace them with good ones! And here's some great news: Every promise God gives you contains the power to fulfill it. So meditate on these words and personalise them: 'Fear not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth' (Isaiah 54:4 NAS). 'The former things shall not be remembered or come into glad and rejoice forever in that which I create' (Isaiah 65:17-18 AMP). Notice the word create. God can create beauty out of ashes and order out of chaos - but it doesn't happen overnight. You'll do a lot of growing and forgiving along the way. In some cases, you'll forgive others; in other cases, you'll forgive yourself. You say, 'But all those promises are from the Old Testament!' Yes, but the Bible says, 'He carries out and fulfills all of [His] promises, no matter how many...there are' (2 Corinthians 1:20 TLB).So bring your bad memories to God and let him heal them.

Soulfood: Jer 41-44, Luke 22:24-38, Ps 25:16-22, Prov 10:4-7


Don't let complaining creep in 2

'The Lord...has heard your grumbling against him.' Exodus 16:7 NIV

When you complain, God takes it personally. It shows a lack of faith in his Word that says, 'God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love [him]' (Romans 8:28 NLT). The Bible says: 'When Pharaoh...let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, "If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led them in a roundabout way' (Exodus 13:17-18 NLT). God sees the end from the beginning, and He's leading you in a roundabout way! Once you accept that, you can stop complaining. When Israel grumbled, 'the Lord's anger blazed...and...he destroyed some of the people' (Numbers 11:1 NLT).Dr. Dale A. Robbins writes: 'They refused to trust him to provide, protect, and direct their lives...The whole premise of Christianity is Jesus becomes the "boss" of our circumstances. We're in his hands. If believers complain, it becomes an accusation against the Lord to whom we've trusted our lives, and he "[hears] all your complaints against him" (Exodus 16:8 NLT).'When you go through tough times, don't resort to complaining. Praise God in spite of what's happening. 'Be thankful in all circumstances' (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT). Thanksgiving is the opposite of complaining. It expresses appreciation for everything God has done and what he promises to do, and shows confidence that he's in charge. The Psalmist said, 'Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, the day of trouble; I will deliver you' (Psalm 50:14-15 AMP). Gratitude - not grumbling - motivates God to work on your behalf.

Soulfood: Jer 36:27 - 40:16, Luke 22:14-23, Ps 25:8-15, Prov 10:1-3


Don't let complaining creep in 1

'These people are grumblers and complainers.' Jude 1:16 NLT

Jon Gordon says: 'My wife's friend Rachel wouldn't stop complaining about her job ...the company, the economy, her lack of sales...I finally stopped her and said, "It's simple. You have a choice. You can accept your company's new policies, come to work with a positive attitude and be your best every day, or you can find a new job. But whatever you do, stop complaining because it's not doing any good. Change your job or change your attitude..." The conversation was over, and so was our friendship, I thought. Rachel wouldn't speak to me for a few months. Then I saw her at a party and she told me she decided to take my advice. She stayed in her job, stopped complaining and started selling more. Three months after changing her attitude her sales were up 30 percent, a year later they were up 70 percent...The other day, three years after our initial conversation, I caught up with Rachel again and asked her how she was doing. She told me during the last two years her sales continued to grow. She's been promoted twice and is now in her dream job. It's the job she always wanted and she's more excited and passionate than ever. Is complaining sabotaging you and/or your team?...I was in a similar situation ten years ago. But I learned when you stop whining and take positive action, you start winning.'The Bible places whiners and complainers in the same class as 'sinners [who] have spoken against [God]...grumblers and only to satisfy their get what they want' (Jude 1:15-16 NLT). Instead, you should be full of faith - thanking God for his blessings and trusting him for the future.

Soulfood: Jer 33:1 - 36:26, Luke 22:1-13, Ps 25:1-7, Prov 9:17-18

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