Psalm 42:2 NIV
What comes to mind when you think of the word godliness? Religious rules and regulations? Christians who point fingers and say, “Thou shalt not”? Little wonder so many people avoid us! Is godliness even possible in an age of interstate drivers and internet shoppers? Or do we need to return to the days of Little House on the Prairie in order to be godly? The fact is godliness isn’t a culture, it’s an attitude of the heart. It has little to do with how a person looks (although that’s hard for some of us to see beyond), or what they drive or own. It has nothing to do with our personal preferences and the standards some of us would like to impose on others. The Bible says, “[People] look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). Godliness is an inside job. And the longer you think about it, the more convinced you become that 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. David cried, “My soul thirsts for God.” That’s it! You can be rich or poor, young or old, urban or rural, follower or leader, active or quiet, married or single, Democrat or Republican – none of that matters. What matters is having a longing to know God intimately, to obey Him, and walk with Him. So ask yourself, “Do I want to be godly?” And if you don’t like the answer, get down on your knees and ask God to change your heart and attitude.
Soul food: Obad; 2 John; Matt 15:1-14; Ps 119:33-40; Prov 17:16
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 will begin to change and become like Him. The more we will 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.
John 5:6 NIV
Jesus asked a sick man an unusual question: “Do you want to get well?” For thirty-eight years this man’s condition had immobilized him, bought him the sympathy of others, and perhaps given him a reason to say, “I’m not responsible.” But all of us are responsible for two things: our attitudes and our choices. The fact is we’ve all been hurt in some way. But if you’re still focused on it twenty years later you’re not a victim by circumstance, but by choice. What exactly is a victim by choice? Someone who thinks negative attention is better than no attention at all! Jesus said, “If you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins” (Mark 11:25 NCV). Those words presuppose someone has hurt you. They also hold you responsible for your reaction to that person. Jesus taught that if you don’t forgive, you can’t receive forgiveness yourself when you need it. Whatever others may have taken from you in the past, if you remain bitter they’ll take more from you in the future. Maybe you’re thinking, “If only they’d come back and ask for forgiveness.” Is that what you’re waiting for? Don’t waste your time! The key to happiness is in your hands, not theirs. And that key is forgiveness. Are you waiting for someone to say, “I forgive you” before you can forgive yourself? What if they never do? Here’s the formula for freedom: (1) Apologize if you need to. (2) Make amends if you can. (3) Forgive yourself. (4) Move on. Do you want to get well? These are the steps.
Soul food: Deut 8-10; Matt 12:22-37; Ps 78:9-16; Prov 16:25
Philippians 4:8 NLT
Our minds are powerful things. What we think about can change our attitude, behaviour, relationships, and faith. It can influence every aspect of our lives. That’s why Paul encouraged those in the church in Philippi to ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (vv.8-9 NLT). When we take control of our minds, and fill them with positive and helpful thoughts, we’ll be more prepared to avoid temptation and sin. Peter warns us to ‘prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control’ (1 Peter 1:13 NLT). When our minds are filled with God’s truth, we’ll be able to recognise the lies of the enemy. When our minds are filled with loving thoughts, we’ll respond to others with love and grace. When our minds are focused on the things that are right, there’ll be less space to dwell on the negative and sinful things. Peter also said: ‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). When we’re not in control of what’s going on in our mind, we’re more vulnerable to the enemy tempting us, and we’re less fixed on God’s truth. David prayed: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14 NLT). He was asking God to help Him ensure that his words and thoughts were good. And we can ask God to do the same for us.
Num 11-13; Mark 2:18-28; Ps 2; Prov 10:30-32
Philippians 4:6 NIV
When we’re anxious, we can end up saying things that aren’t helpful. It happens so easily, especially in the company of the wrong people. Before we know it, we’re criticising and complaining, and the atmosphere becomes negative. That’s because our words can create a climate. But the Bible says: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds’ (vv.6-7 NIV). We start to rise above anxiety by giving thanks, not by speaking negative things about our situations or about ourselves. And we can’t let our level of thankfulness to God be determined by our situation, because God is greater than any situation we face. So how can we overcome our negativity, and instead develop a positive, faith-filled outlook? Firstly, we need to decide to. We can’t move on from negative thinking until we decide we don’t want to think like that anymore. Let’s refuse to spend another moment criticising and complaining. Then, we need to start now. Change doesn’t come easily, but unless we make a start it won’t come at all. We need to try to be more aware of what we say. When we start speaking negatively, we need to recognise it and steer our thoughts and words towards positive things. Thirdly, we need to look for what’s good. The Bible says: ‘Whatever is true…noble…right…pure…lovely… admirable…think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8 NIV). If we’re always focusing on the bad things, the struggles, the hurts, then we’re going to find it hard to be positive. Instead, we need to try and look for the good things and speak positively about our situations.
Lev 1-4; Luke 20:20-26; Ps 31; Prov 8:34-36