1 Peter 5:7 NIV
Are you feeling stressed? Is your mind besieged with worries? If so, God wants to relieve your stress. Read the following Scriptures slowly and prayerfully: “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1 NIV). “You have been a refuge for the poor… for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 25:4 NIV). “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15 NIV). “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV). “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). “Even to your old age… I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4 NIV). So here’s God’s prescription for stress relief: (1) Believe God truly “cares for you.” (2) Make a conscious decision to “cast all your anxiety on him.” If you’re on overload, ask God for wisdom to change your schedule. When the problem you’re facing is too big for you to handle, give it to Him – and don’t take it back. Let Him think His thoughts through you, and allow His peace, power, and patience to take charge of your mind. Practice doing this at the beginning of each day, and as often as you need to throughout the day. It’s God’s remedy for stress!
Soul food: 1 Chr 4:24-5:26; Mark 2:13-22; Ps 119:9-16; Prov 20:19-21
James 1:22 NIV
Shame grows in the dark, but once you expose it to the light of God’s Word, it loses its grip on you. Feelings can be so fickle. And often they’re triggered by everyday things like a familiar song, the mention of someone who hurt you, an anniversary, a birthday, a holiday such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day. That’s why James tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word… Do what it says.” One counsellor writes: “Shame can hold us back, hold us down, and keep us staring at our feet… Many systems and people are controlled by it and want us to play their game… Compulsive behaviours, sexually addictive behaviours, overeating, chemical abuse, and addictive gambling are all shame-based behaviours… Our past experiences, and the brainwashing we may have had, put shame on us. ‘Don’t think… don’t feel… don’t grow or change… don’t feel alive… be ashamed!’ Be done with shame! Attack it. Go to war with it. Learn to recognize and avoid it like the plague.” The Bible says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” (Romans 8:33 AMP). Whether you committed the offense or the offense was committed against you, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 NKJV). Note the word “all.” Instead of talking about how you feel, start talking about what you know! God’s Word, which is God’s opinion of you, is the greatest healing force on earth. So read it, believe it, speak it, and stand on it. As you do, you’ll begin to rise above your shame-based thinking.
Soul food: 1 Chr 1-2; Mark 1:35-45; Ps 78:65-72; Prov 20:11-14
Numbers 14:8 NLT
We’re very good at putting limits on ourselves. We might not always realise we’re doing it. It might be something as simple as seeing a job advert, and immediately thinking ‘I couldn’t apply, they probably want someone with more experience.’ Or maybe we’ve not done as well as we’d hoped in exams, and now we’re almost afraid of trying to learn anything new in case we fail. Or we have a dream or idea, but people tell us it’s impossible and can’t be done, so we just give up on it. The problem is, we can get so used to self-imposed limitations and telling ourselves, ‘I can’t do that,’ we might start to think we can’t do anything. It’s almost like we’ve stored up all that negativity and used it to build a box that we can’t escape from. This happened to the Israelites too. When others saw giants in the Promised Land, they wanted to give up and return to Egypt. But Caleb refused to be limited by the opinions of others, and said, ‘The LORD… will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.’ At that point two things happened. ‘The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle’ (Numbers 14:10 NLT). God said yes to Caleb, and that was all the approval he needed. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how many people are saying no to us, or what limits we put on ourselves. When God says we can do something, with His guidance, we can, and will do it. God doesn’t box us in – we just need to make the decision to break out and follow His guidance.
2 Cor 11:16-13:14; Mat 20:29-34; Ps 17; Prov 16:12-15
Numbers 14:8 NLT
When others saw giants in the Promised Land and wanted to return to Egypt, Caleb said, “The Lord…will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.” At that point two things happened. “The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle” (v.10 NLT). When the people around Caleb said no, God said yes – and all you need is His approval! When you have that, you can disregard the nay-sayers and move forward. If you wait for everyone to approve, agree with you, and applaud you, you’ll get nowhere. There was a time when people thought the earth was flat, and that man would never walk on the moon. In 1899 the U.S. Patent Office almost closed because the commissioner, Charles H. Duell, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” In retrospect this statement is ridiculous, but some of us have this same mind-set. We stop learning because we think we’re too old. We’re afraid to change careers in case we jeopardize our pension. We don’t pursue our dreams in case we fail or get ridiculed. We’re so used to self-imposed limitations and telling ourselves, “I can’t do that,” we think we can’t do anything. In essence, we’ve built a box, crawled inside, and now we’re looking for something or someone to blame for our lack of faith. God didn’t box you in – you did – and you need to take the initiative for breaking out. Today decide to do it – and God will bless your endeavours.
Soul food: 2 Cor 11:16-13:14; Mat 20:29-34; Ps 17; Prov 16:12-15
Isaiah 40:29 NIV
A little boy was crippled and the doctors said there was nothing they could do to help him. So his mother took an orange crate, put him in it, tied a rope around it, tied the rope to her waist, and pulled him around with her. After a while the boy developed a habit his mother didn’t like: He began to rock his box. Sometimes he rocked it to the point that it tipped over and he fell out. No matter how many times she put him back in, he kept doing the same thing. Eventually he rocked his box until he was finally able to get out of it. Then to everyone’s amazement, he learned how to walk and ended up with a great life. That little boy did something the doctors and not even his mother believed could happen. He refused to settle for life inside a box someone had put him in. Has someone put you in a box today? If so, keep rocking your box until you’re free! Other people are self-appointed “experts” at telling us what we can and can’t do. They don’t always celebrate anything “out of the box,” which is something out of the ordinary. One of the great promises in the Bible is: “He…increases the power of the weak.” Start reading “rock your box” Scriptures. Here’s one: “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord” (Micah 3:8 NIV). Here’s another: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 NIV). Today declare, “Lord you promised it, I believe it, and that settles it!”
Soul food: 2 Cor 9:1-11:15; Mat 20:17-28; Ps 8; Prov 16:8-11