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Christ is in you (1) - WEDNESDAY MARCH 29

‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.’     Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV

When God said, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you,’ you could call it ‘a spiritual heart transplant’. Tara Storch understands this miracle. In 2010 a skiing accident claimed the life of her thirteen-year-old daughter, Taylor. What followed for Tara and her husband, Todd, was every parent’s worst nightmare: a funeral, a burial, a flood of questions and tears. They decided to donate their daughter’s organs to needy patients. And few people needed a heart more than Patricia Winters. Her heart had begun to fail five years earlier, leaving her too weak to do much more than sleep. Taylor’s heart gave Patricia a fresh start in life. Taylor’s mum had only one request: she wanted to hear her daughter’s heartbeat. She and Todd flew from Dallas to Phoenix and went to Patricia’s home, where the two mothers embraced for a long time. Then Patricia offered Tara and Todd a stethoscope.

The question is: when they listened to the healthy rhythm, whose heart did they hear? Did they not hear the still-beating heart of their daughter? It indwelt a different body, but the heart was still the heart of their child. And when God hears your heart, does He not hear the still-beating heart of His Son? Paul said, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20 NKJV). The apostle sensed within himself not just the philosophy, ideals, and influence of Christ, but the person of Christ. Christ moved in - and He still does. ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27 NKJV).

To be kind is to be godly - TUESDAY MARCH 28

‘That…he might show…his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.’ Ephesians 2:7 NIV (2011 Edition)

The Bible says: ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms…that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus’ (vv. 6-7 NIV 2011 Edition). God sent Jesus from heaven to earth, so that we can leave earth one day and go to heaven. This is evidence of God’s kindness, even to those who aren’t yet believers. Beyond that, enjoying the presence of Christ in heaven will remind us of God’s great kindness for all eternity.

God places so high a premium on kindness that He never wants us to forget it. So if you want to be ‘godly’ you must endeavour to be kind. Sometimes Christians are so committed to the tenets of their faith that they come across sounding harsh, and end up turning people off. Be careful; you can have the right doctrine - and the wrong spirit! God’s grace attracts people, it doesn’t repel them. In The Lion and the Mouse, Aesop said, ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, ever is wasted.’ It costs to be unkind, but it pays to be kind. So take every opportunity today to be kind to others.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.’ The apostle Paul puts it like this: ‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves’ (Romans 12:10 NIV 1984 Edition). Today remember that to be kind is to be godly.

How do you affect others? - MONDAY MARCH 27

‘Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.’     Romans 1:12 NCV

We’ve a tendency to adopt the attitudes of the people closest to us. That’s why Paul wrote, ‘Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.’ The truth is that doubters get what they expect - and so do believers! Looking for God’s best in every situation isn’t just scriptural; it helps you identify opportunities you’d otherwise miss. Seeing people through God’s eyes causes them to be attracted to you and open in how they react. Is that important? Absolutely! Why? Because often your attitude will touch them before your message does.

Management consultant Fred Smith points out that there are two kinds of people in any organisation: polluters and purifiers. The polluters are like smokestacks, belching out dirty smoke all the time. They hate clear skies, and no matter how good it gets they find a way to make it gloomy. When the people around them breathe their toxins they feel sicker and sicker. Purifiers, on the other hand, make everything around them better. It doesn’t matter what kind of rotten atmosphere they encounter. They take in the toxic words of polluters just like everyone else does, but they filter them before passing them on. What goes in gloomy and negative comes out fresh and clear.

The question is: when you spend time with people, do they walk away feeling better or worse? Do you clear the air by giving them encouragement and fresh perspective, or do they leave feeling downcast and discouraged? Observe how people respond to you and you’ll know which group you belong to.

A praying mother - SUNDAY MARCH 26 – MOTHERING SUNDAY

‘Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart.’ Luke 2:19 TLB

Max Lucado writes: ‘Some things only a mum can do…like powdering a baby’s bottom with one hand while holding the phone with the other…Spending the day wiping noses, laundering socks, balancing a cheque book, and still mean it when she thanks God for her kids. Some things only a mum can fix…like the cabinet doors her husband couldn’t, and his bruised ego when he found out she could! Broken shoelaces…broken hearts…breaking up with your sweetheart. Some things only a mum can know…like how long it takes to drive from piano lessons to football practice…how many pizzas you need for a sleepover…the number of days left in a term.

The rest of us can only wonder… “Mum, what was it like when that infant’s cry first filled the room? Or the day the school bus pulled to a stop, you placed a kiss on a five-year-old’s cheek, waved goodbye and then saw the tricycle - silent and still? How did you feel? Did you cry? Did you smile?” Were you like Mary who “quietly treasured all these things in her heart?”’ A mother who loves and prays for her children is a force to be reckoned with. When a preacher stopped by a house and asked to speak to the mother, her little boy said, ‘You can’t see her right now, she’s praying.’ That’s because Susanna Wesley spent one hour every day praying for each of her seventeen children. Eventually two of them, John and Charles, were used by God to bring a spiritual awakening to Britain and America and establish the Methodist Church. Such is the influence of a praying mother.

Enjoy each season of your life! - SATURDAY MARCH 25

‘Which yields its fruit in season.’ Psalm 1:3 NIV (2011 Edition)

Your life is lived in seasons, and to be fruitful you must recognise the season you’re in and maximise it. ‘How can I tell when a season is ending?’ you ask. Because the grace that accompanied that season will lift, and what was once rewarding will start to feel unrewarding. The Bible says a successful man or woman is like a tree planted by streams of water ‘which yields its fruit in season’. You can only be fruitful in your season! That’s where blessing and success occur. You can’t just do it whenever you want to; it has to be in your appointed time. When the right season comes, it’s effortless for a tree to produce what’s stored within. And there’s fruit within you that will be produced when you understand what season you’re in. But there are rules for each season; let’s look at them.

Spring - is for training and discipline. That’s when you begin to see God’s purpose for your life and prepare for it. Summer - is for maturing what spring started. The seeds you sowed and nurtured then will grow and multiply now. Autumn - is when you no longer have the passion of youth but the steady calm of the seasoned veteran. If you’re wise, you’re now working smarter instead of harder. It’s time to transition and prepare for the upcoming winter. Winter - is when you assess your accomplishments, enjoy your rewards, pass on your counsel, and take your bows. You have fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished the course (see 2 Timothy 4:7). If you do it right, each season can be the best season of your life!

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