2 Timothy 4:5 NIV
A woman was sitting in her family room when a small black snake suddenly appeared, slithered across the floor, and made its way under the couch. Being deathly afraid of snakes, she ran to the bathroom to get her husband, who was taking a shower. He came running from the shower with just a towel around his waist, grabbed an old broom handle from the closet, and began poking under the couch. At this point the family dog awakened. Curious to see what was happening, the dog came up behind the husband and touched his cold nose to the back of the man’s heel. The man, thinking the snake had bitten him on the heel, fainted. The wife concluded that her husband had collapsed with a heart attack, so she ran from the house to a hospital just a block away. The ambulance drivers promptly came to her house and placed him on a stretcher. But as they were carrying him out, the snake reappeared from underneath the couch. One of the drivers got so frightened that he dropped his end of the stretcher and broke the man’s leg. Seeing her husband’s twisted leg, the wife collapsed on the spot. Meanwhile, the snake slithered quietly away!
An old African proverb says, “There are forty kinds of lunacy, but only one kind of common sense.” Acting impulsively usually means things will get worse before they get better. So before you panic, calm yourself and ask God for wisdom and help, even in the simplest things.
Soul food: 2 Sam 3:22-7:17; John 3:22-36; Ps 89:38-52; Prov 23:19-21
2 Timothy 4:5 NIV
When we’re faced with a problem or a situation that scares us, our first reaction is often to panic. Panic is our body’s normal reaction to danger as our adrenaline levels increase, and in some circumstances it can be helpful. But if it gets excessive or uncontrollable, it can stop us living a full life. (If you experience panic attacks, or the panic is getting out of control, it’s important to seek help from a doctor or counsellor.)
If we’re experiencing panic, one thing we can do is to bring God into our situation. Fear and panic can make us overreact or make bad decisions, and acting impulsively usually means things will get worse before they get better. When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, we need to try to calm ourselves and ask God for wisdom and help.
Here are some verses from Scripture to help us keep calm and remind us of God’s goodness and love: ‘I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears’ (Psalm 34:4 NLT). ‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you’ (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). ‘God will save you from hidden traps and from deadly diseases. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection’ (Psalm 91:3-4 NCV).
It doesn’t matter if the thing we’re worried about would seem trivial to someone else. If we’re worried about it, God cares and wants us to tell Him about how we’re feeling. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).
2 Sam 3:22-7:17; John 3:22-36; Ps 89:38-52; Prov 23:19-21
Psalm 42:2 NIV
Godliness isn’t a culture, it’s an attitude of the heart. It has little to do with how a person looks or what they own. The Bible says, ‘People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). Godliness is internal. A truly godly person is one whose heart is sensitive to God, who takes God and His Word seriously, and who desires more of Him. Someone who can relate to David when he cried, ‘My soul thirsts for God.’ We can be rich or poor, young or old, urban or rural, follower or leader, active or quiet, married or single – none of that matters. What matters is having a longing to know God intimately, to obey Him, and walk with Him. It’s about being dedicated and devoted to God. And out of that devotion comes a godly lifestyle. The more time we spend with God, the more we’ll begin to change and become like Him. The more we’ll want to lay aside the things we know we shouldn’t be doing, and live His way instead. The Bible tells us: ‘Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do’ (1 Peter 1:15 NIV). We become holy through our time spent with God, and by becoming self-disciplined. The Bible says: ‘Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things’ (1 Timothy 4:8 NIV). We need to ask ourselves, ‘Do I want to be godly?’ If the answer is ‘no’, we need to ask God to change our hearts and attitudes. And if the answer is ‘yes’, we need to ask God to help us desire Him above all else.
Eze 46-48; Luke 22:54-62; Ps 3; Prov 21:4-8
Deuteronomy 28:2 NIV
God loves to bless us because He loves us. The Bible says that we should praise God ‘who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3 NIV). But sometimes His blessing is conditional. That means we have to obey His commands before we receive the blessing. Moses gave the Israelites a list of the ways God was going to bless them (you can read that in Deuteronomy 28:3-13). But this list was preceded by these words: ‘All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God.’ The word ‘if’ is really important here. It shows that the Israelites would only get the blessings if they obeyed God. It also shows that they had a choice. When we choose to obey God, we open ourselves up to receive more of His blessings. How much do we desire God’s blessings? How willing are we to obey His commands? Sometimes we can expect blessings without putting any effort in, but it’s clear that obedience is necessary. So how do we know what God wants us to do? We need to be spending time reading the Bible. We need to be listening to what He’s saying to us, and then acting on it. When Jonah heard God’s call, He ran the opposite way. Obedience means we follow God wherever He’s calling us, even when it seems challenging or we doubt ourselves. But we need to remember that obedience comes gradually. As humans we often desire to do our own thing and we can struggle to surrender our whole lives over to God. When we ask God to help us humble ourselves and obey Him, He’ll gradually transform us to live godly, obedient, and blessing-filled lives.
Acts 24-26; Luke 10:1-12; Ps 78:9-16; Prov 16:25
1 Timothy 4:12 NLT
By the time he was eighteen, Timothy was an apostle. And it seems some folks in church thought his promotion to leadership at such an early age wasn’t a good thing. But Paul did. He told Timothy: “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity…focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress” (vv. 11-15 NLT). Who says you’re too young to make an impact? Not God. And not history. Victor Hugo wrote his first tragedy at age fifteen. Raphael painted his masterpieces before he died at age thirty-seven. Tennyson wrote his first volume of poetry at eighteen. Paschal wrote his great works between the ages of sixteen and thirty-seven. Joan of Arc did all her work and was burned at the stake at nineteen. Romulus founded Rome at twenty. Calvin joined the Reformation at age twenty-one and wrote his famous Institutes at age twenty-seven. Alexander The Great had conquered the known world by the time he was twenty-three. Isaac Newton was twenty-four when he introduced the law of gravity. Believe in yourself, for God does. Develop your gifts, and ask God to bless them. Maximize every opportunity to the fullest, and you will make the world a better place.
Soul food: Jer 22-24; Luke 4:31-44; Ps 102:12-17; Prov 15:3