Philippians 4:13 NIV
When we read about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 we discover that they shut the mouths of lions, administered justice, fulfilled promises, and even raised the dead. But in the middle of the account, we also find these words: ‘Whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle’ (Hebrews 11:34 NIV). They started out weak and became strong. The strength didn’t come from themselves, it came from God. He’s the One who can take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. He can use our weaknesses to advance His kingdom. Our weaknesses can make us feel like giving up or convince us that we are not able to fulfil His calling on our lives, which then makes us feel ashamed. But actually our weaknesses give God an opportunity to show His power, and so they bring Him glory. The Bible says: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). When we feel weak, God promises to give us the strength we need. In Isaiah 40 it says: ‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak’ (v.29 NIV). God’s got a calling for each of us. Sometimes that calling utilises the gifts and skills that He’s given us. Other times, it’s so far out of our comfort zone that we have to rely completely on Him to equip us and give us strength. It’s in the times where we know we couldn’t possibly do what He’s asking in our own strength that we come to realise how gracious God is in giving us the strength to achieve the things He’s planned for us. And we can confidently say: ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’
Ezek 22-23; Matt 22:23-33; Ps 142; Prov 19:21-23
1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
Next time you pass a McDonald’s, think about this statement from the founder Ray Kroc. “Press on! Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” As you read about the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11 you discover that they shut the mouths of lions, administered justice, fulfilled promises, and even raised the dead. It’s a spectacular list of accomplishments. But in the middle of the account you also find these words: “Whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle” (Hebrews 11:34 NIV). Notice, they started out weak and became strong. How? Through persistence and determination! The problem is we’re not always willing to fight for what we want. But without conflict there can be no conquest. An Anglican bishop once quipped, “Why is it that everywhere the apostle Paul went they had a revolution, but everywhere I go they have a cup of tea?” Paul didn’t blend in, he stood out! On his first missionary journey he was stoned and left for dead. On his second they threw him in prison. And how did he handle it? On one occasion he prayed and praised God until his prison doors opened. So the word for you today is: “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully.” If you’re looking for a statement of purpose to live by, adopt this one.
Soul food: Ezek 22-23; Matt 22:23-33; Ps 142; Prov 19:21-23
Matthew 6:33 NLT
What takes first place in your life? We can be tempted to think that money, popularity, relationships, success, important titles, and material things are the way to happiness. We can put those things first in our lives, forgetting that what really matters is God and His kingdom. When we lose sight of what really matters, we can become stressed and anxious. We think we need to provide for ourselves, that we need to keep up with everyone else, and that we are not valuable if we don’t have the things the world tells us we need. But living God’s way means we are at peace because we are living for the approval of God, not people. He’s the One who provides for our needs. And in Him we find our value and identity. The Bible says: ‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.’ So what does it mean to seek the kingdom? Here are a few ideas: 1) We look out for opportunities to serve other people and put them above ourselves. 2) We sacrifice our time, gifts, and resources to help bring kingdom values such as peace, love, and joy to those around us. 3) We look to God when we are making decisions, and ask Him to help us walk in His will. 4) We rely on Him to meet all our needs, and trust that He has good plans for us. In Micah 6 it says: ‘And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (v.8 NIV). That’s how we live the kingdom way. So let’s start living for what really matters.
Ezek 20-21; Matt 22:15-22; Ps 111; Prov 19:18-20
Job 1:21 NLT
Have you ever heard the saying, “Old too soon, wise too late”? Don’t let that be your story. Three of the titans who built America were Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Rockefeller. After attending Vanderbilt’s funeral, Carnegie and Rockefeller spent the rest of their lives seeing how much money they could give away to do good. Death has a way of showing us the brevity of life and changing our perspective. Carnegie died in his eighties and Rockefeller in his nineties, but they both died! We all do. The question is will you merely make a living or will you make a difference? One businessman told his friend: “I don’t think I’m trapped on this treadmill forever, but I’m certainly involved with it right now…it’s the old merry-go-round of how much money is enough? And it’s never enough. Three years ago I thought: ‘Just a little more…now I make twice as much, and it’s still not enough.'” Solomon writes, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NAS). Have you told yourself that when you get a certain amount of money you’ll be happy and secure? Maybe and maybe not. When you trust in anything other than God, you live fearfully because you’ll always be vulnerable to circumstances you cannot control. Jesus bottom-lined it this way: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).
Soul food: Ezek 20-21; Matt 22:15-22; Ps 111; Prov 19:18-20
Job 1:21 NLV
Vanderbilt, Carnegie en Rockefeller was drie van die grootste bouers van Amerika. Nadat hulle Vanderbilt se begrafnis bygewoon het, het Carnegie en Rockefeller die res van hulle lewens spandeer om te kyk hoe baie geld hulle kon weggee om sodoende goed te doen. Die dood het ‘n manier om vir ons die kortstondigheid van die lewe te wys en ons perspektief te verander. Carnegie is in sy tagtigs oorlede en Rockefeller eers in sy negentigs, maar hulle altwee het gesterf! Ons almal sal sterf. Die vraag is of jy slegs ‘n lewe gaan maak en of jy ‘n verskil gaan maak? ‘n Besigheidsman het vir sy vriend gesê: ‘Ek dink nie ek is vir altyd op hierdie trapmeul vasgevang nie, maar ek is vir seker tans daarby betrokke. Dis die ou vraag van hoeveel geld genoeg is? Dis nooit genoeg nie. Drie jaar terug het ek gedink: ‘Net nog ‘n bietjie.’ Ek maak nou twee keer soveel geld en dis nog steeds nie genoeg nie.’ Salomo het geskryf: ‘Hoe meer jy besit, hoe meer word die eters wat jou help om dit te spandeer. Al voordeel wat jou rykdom vir jou inhou, is om te sien hoe dit deur jou vingers glip’ (Prediker 5:10 NLV). Het jy al ooit vir jouself gesê dat wanneer jy ‘n sekere hoeveelheid geld besit, dan sal jy gelukkig en veilig wees? Miskien, miskien nie. Wanneer jy op enige iets anders as God vertrou, lewe jy in vrees omdat jy altyd weerloos sal wees teenoor omstandighede wat jy nie kan beheer nie. Jesus het dit so gestel: ‘Nee, maak die koningsheerskappy van God en dit wat voor Hom reg is, julle heel eerste prioriteit; dan sal God vir julle al hierdie ander dinge as ‘n bonus byvoeg’ (Matteus 6:33 NLV).
Sielskos: Eseg 20-21; Matt 22:15-22; Ps 111; Spr 19:18-20