S.O.S. prayers

Psalm 46:1-2 CEV

One day a woman was driving through the countryside when she saw a tornado approaching, so she hid behind her car and watched as it demolished a nearby house. Running over to what was now a hole in the ground, she saw a man hunkered down with his eyes closed. “Are you okay? Is there anybody down there with you?” she asked. “No,” he replied. “Just me and God having an urgent conversation!” Nothing fuels prayer like real need; in a crisis even unbelievers will pray. There are some issues in life we simply can’t resolve on our own, hence the Psalmist wrote, “When I am in trouble, I pray, knowing you…listen” (Psalm 86:7 CEV). Sometimes our prayers are simply cries for help meant for God’s ears only. When you’re out of options, your faith develops fast and emergencies become opportunities to experience God’s grace and power in a greater way. So if you’re in an S.O.S. situation today, here’s a prayer God will answer: “Father, it feels like I’m in an impossible position with no way out. Let me feel Your presence and the encouragement of Your Spirit, reminding me that with You all things are possible to those who believe. Send the answer from heaven to my earthly situation. From where I stand, things look hopeless. But You are the God who created the earth from nothing, and rolled back the Red Sea so Your children could cross over safely. You made the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear. Today I thank You that You’re my God, and that You are ‘always ready to help in times of trouble.'”

Soul food: Hos 6-10; Matt 26:47-56; Ps 116:12-19; Prov 8:10-13

Secrets of self-control (4)

Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Start believing you can change. Your beliefs control your behavior. The way you think determines the way you feel. And when your feelings become strong enough, they determine the way you act. The person who says, “I can’t do it,” and the person who says, “I can do it,” are both right. Much of the time you set yourself up to be defeated by what you’re saying. Your words reinforce either your right or wrong belief system. Three times in First Peter, God reminds us to be clear minded and self-controlled. Why? Because a clear mind is essential to self-control. God gave us the power to change our habits when He gave us the power to choose our thoughts. Does Romans twelve verse two tell us to be transformed by working hard or by sheer willpower? No. What are we transformed by? The renewing of the mind. When your self-control is being tested, you need to fill your mind with the promises of God. Here’s one: “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV). You must believe God when He says there’s “a way out” for you. Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That means you can change, and you can be different. Stop setting yourself up for failure by constantly criticizing yourself: “I’m no good. I simply have no control over my life.” Nagging doesn’t work – on yourself or on anyone else! Instead say, “Everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NIV). “And I believe.”

Soul food: 1 Kings 21-22; Matt 20:1-16; Ps 66:13-20; Prov 6:23-25

God’s remedy for stress

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

Shame-based thinking (2)

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

Break out of the box

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