Deuteronomy 2:2-3 NLT
A biologist experimented with what he called “processional caterpillars.” He lined up caterpillars on the rim of a pot that held a plant so that the lead caterpillar was head-to-tail with the last caterpillar, with no break in the parade. The tiny creatures walked around the rim of the pot for a full week before they died of exhaustion and starvation. Not once did any of them break out of line and venture over to the plant to eat. Food was only inches away, but their follow-the-crowd instinct was stronger than the drive to eat and survive. The same thing happened to an entire generation of Israelites. They walked in circles in the wilderness for forty years, even though they were only eleven miles from the Promised Land. If you’re in a rut today, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Is this rut of my own making? We choose a rut because it’s comfortable and requires no risk. And getting out of it requires courage and a willingness to make table, tough choices you follow through on. (2) Who am I following? We adopt certain patterns because someone has taught them to us directly, or by example. Instead of mindlessly following the crowd, seek God’s will for your life and commit yourself to doing it. (3) Where am I going? The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). If you want to get out of the rut you’re in today, ask God to give you a vision for your life – He will! And when He does, pour yourself into it.
Soul food: 1 Thes 4:1-5; 2 Cor 5:14-21; Ps 77:11-20; Prov 9:10-12
Genesis 12:2 NIV
We may not be able to see them right now, but God has given us all so many blessings. Some of these are material, everyday things, other blessings are spiritual and unseen. The Bible says: ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3 NIV). God loves to bless us and give us good gifts because we are His children and He loves us. But when we are blessed, we shouldn’t become selfish. Being blessed by God means we are able to be a blessing to others. God said to Abraham: ‘I will bless you…make your name great, and you will be a blessing.’ The more we have, whether that’s money, time, skills, or authority, the more we have to share with others. The Bible says: ‘Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered’ (Proverbs 11:25 ESV). It’s important for us ‘water’ other people. That means we need to be encouraging and refreshing them. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says: ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up’ (ESV). It’s important to be generous with our resources and our words. We are not blessed to store everything up for ourselves, but to share with others. We need to ask God to open our eyes to those around us who He wants us to share with. It may mean we donate to a charity, use our God-given gifts to serve, speak words of encouragement to someone who is struggling, or even just smile at someone to spread the joy God has given us. We need to look beyond ourselves and see who we can bless.
Mal 1-4; Matt 1:1-6a; Ps 128; Prov 31:10-13
Habakkuk 2:2 NIV
It can be helpful to write down our goals. God told the prophet Habakkuk, ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain…so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time…Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay’ (vv.2-3 NIV). By writing things down, they can become clearer in our minds. This verse says to ‘make it plain’. When we write down our visions and goals, they are not only made clear to us, but we can also write them in such a way that they are understandable and attainable. We need to ask God to help us break down the vision and plans He has for us into smaller goals, otherwise we can feel overwhelmed by the task facing us. We should write down the larger vision God’s given us, but it’s also important to write down goals within that vision so that we can list them and see when we have achieved them. The verse also contains the word ‘delay’. When God gives us a vision, it’s usually not fulfilled immediately. We will face disappointments, discouragements, and delays. And these things can cause us to feel like giving up. That’s why it’s so important for us to write our visions down so that we can go back to them and remind ourselves of the amazing things God’s planned for us. God told Abraham that his children would be as numerous as the stars in heaven (take a look at Genesis 15:1-6). Whenever Abraham became tired of waiting, he only had to look up at the night sky and see the stars to be reminded of God’s promise. With our goal written out, we will always know where we are and remember what God has called us to do.
Zech 5-8; John 20:19-31; Ps 67; Prov 30:29-33
Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
We need to ask God to tell us who we are. Today, there are loads of self-help books telling us that we can be anything we make up our minds to be. But we are going to experience more of God’s blessing when we are following the purposes He has given us rather than doing our own thing. God will only empower us to be what He called and equipped us to be. So we need to be asking God to reveal to us who He has made us to be. We need to stop trying to figure it all out by ourselves, and open our hearts to what God wants for us. We can make lots of plans about how we want our lives to be, and what sort of person we want to become, but God created us for certain purposes and He promises to equip us to be able to fulfil them. He told Jeremiah: ‘”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth”‘ (vv.5-9 NIV). God told Jeremiah who he was and what he was called to do. Then He equipped him for the task. And He will do the same for us.
Micah 5-7; John 19:31-42; Ps 105:23-36; Prov 30:15-19
Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
Ask God to tell you who you are. Bookstore shelves are lined with volumes of books telling us that we can be anything we make up our minds to be. And while there’s some truth to that, it’s not the whole truth! A dog may believe it can fly, but if it tries to, it will go “splat.” A fish may believe it can bark, but it’s not going to happen. Bottom line: Dogs and fish may pray, believe, claim, confess, and try all they want, but they won’t succeed. Why? Because God will only empower you to be what He called and equipped you to be. He told Jeremiah: “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth'” (vv. 5-9 NIV). When God equips you with one talent He doesn’t give you a five-talent assignment, and vice versa (See Matthew 25:14-15). And here’s the great thing: The one-talent person and the five-talent person will one day stand before Him and hear the commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV).
Soul food: Micah 5-7; John 19:31-42; Ps 105:23-36; Prov 30:15-19