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
2 Thessalonians 3:11 NKJV
One day Peter looked at John and said to Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus immediately rebuked Peter and said, “What is that to you? Just follow me” (See John 21:21-22). Now, if the apostle Peter could get into trouble for meddling, any of us can. The issue here isn’t about helping others; it’s about knowing when to stay out of the middle and mind your own business. Sometimes we jump in and try to solve problems without being asked. And not only are our efforts fruitless, they’re resented. As you become spiritually mature and get over your need to “fix” everybody, life becomes simpler. Now that you’re not “butting in” where you’re not invited, you’re more available to help where you’re really needed. Not meddling, however, goes beyond avoiding the temptation to police, enlighten, or rescue others. It means not eavesdropping, gossiping, talking behind people’s backs, and needing to figure everybody out. Recognize any of these traits in yourself? If so, deal with the problem before it costs you the respect of others. Do you know why we focus so much on other people’s shortcomings? You’ve guessed it – to keep from having to look closely at ourselves. The only thing you can change about others – is your attitude toward them. Paul writes, “Some…among you…are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort…that they work in quietness” (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 NKJV). One counselor says: “Being a peacemaker doesn’t mean we get in the middle. We are bearers of peace by staying peaceful ourselves…not harboring turmoil…not causing the extra chaos created when we get in the middle of other people’s affairs and relationships.”
Soul food: Isa 38-41; Luke 2:34-40; Ps 74:1-11; Prov 2:6
Genesis 45:11 NKJV
The dream God gave Joseph was not about him feeling good because he was now the number two guy in Egypt, but about positioning him to feed his family and the world in time of famine. When God gives us a dream, it will bless us – and others. The Bible says, ‘God so loved the world’ (John 3:16). When we let Him, God will use us to help fulfil His will. From Joseph’s family would come Jesus, the Redeemer of the world, but Joseph’s family was being threatened with extinction. So God put a plan in place which involved Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and being elevated to the throne so that His plan could be accomplished. Joseph’s story proves that a God-given dream will change our attitude towards others, including those who mistreat us. It will make us more gracious, loving, and forgiving. Remembering how they betrayed him, Joseph’s brothers trembled as they stood before him realising he held their fate in his hands. But he refused to retaliate, or even utter a word about what they had done. He told them: ‘I will provide for you.’ Instead of revenge, he wanted the relationship restored. He looked beyond their actions and saw God at work in all he had been through. ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’ (Genesis 50:20 NIV). How we treat others, especially when we’re in a position of authority, is really important. We should never abuse any authority that we may have been given. We need to be treating people how God treats them – with love.
Isa 8-11; Luke 1:26-38; Ps 10:1-11; Prov 1:10-16
Genesis 45:11 NKJV
The dream God gave Joseph was not about feeling good because he was now the number two guy in Egypt, but about positioning him to feed his family and the world in time of famine. Don’t miss the point here. When God gives you a dream, it will bless you – and others. The Bible says, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). God’s plan is not to make you an icon, but an instrument to fulfill His will. From Joseph’s family would come the Redeemer of the world, but his family was being threatened with extinction. So God put a plan in place which involved Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and being elevated to the throne so that His plan could be accomplished. And here’s another thought. Joseph’s story proves that a God-given dream will change your attitude toward others, including those who mistreat you. It will make you more gracious, loving, and forgiving. Remembering how they betrayed him, Joseph’s brothers trembled as they stood before him realizing he held their fate in his hands. But he refused to retaliate, or even utter a word about what they’d done. Listen to what he told them: “I will provide for you.” Instead of revenge, he wanted the relationship restored. He looked beyond their actions and saw God at work in all He’d been through. “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” (Genesis 50:20 NKJV). How you treat others, especially when you’re in a position of strength, determines how God will treat you.
Soul food: Isa 8-11; Luke 1:26-38; Ps 10:1-11; Prov 1:10-16