1 Peter 1:7 NLT
The tests we face reveal both our weaknesses and our strengths. When the Bible speaks of “a refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2), we’re inclined to think of the negative things God wants to remove from our character. But we also have inner strengths and gifts that need to be refined but we’re not aware of them because a demand hasn’t been placed on them. In 1 Kings 17, when the widow and her son met Elijah there was a famine in the land, and he asked her to share their last meal with him. Maybe you’re thinking, “Typical preacher!” Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions! One of the best days in this woman’s life was when God placed a demand on her faith. Her response changed her future and saved her family. So when you’re faced with a need, how do you respond? Do you withdraw? Withhold? Give from a sense of obligation? Or do you see it as an opportunity to obey God and change your future? You can actually give your way out of trouble! (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11). When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, He said, “The king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him” (Exodus 3:19 NIV). And today God may be permitting the Enemy to test you in order to reveal: (1) how much He cares for you; (2) how you’ll act when your back’s against the wall; (3) who you’ll believe when God says, “I will bring you out with a mighty hand,” and the Enemy is saying, “I won’t let you go.” That’s what this test is about.
Soul food: Gen 24:1-25:18; John 14:15-25; Ps 118:19-29; Prov 31:14-17
John 8:27 NKJV
The people in Jesus’ day found it hard to grasp the concept of God as a Father. Lord, king, judge, they understood – but not Father. The Old Testament rarely speaks of God as Father, whereas the New Testament mentions it often. Until Jesus came and revealed the Father, He remained a mystery. “No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27 NIV). And many of us still don’t comprehend His fatherhood and the rich blessings we have in Him. “Father,” God’s all-inclusive name, incorporates everything we could ever need, while disclosing how He feels toward each one of us. It exemplifies every trait of the best father imaginable. Think what a loving, all-powerful father would do for a needy child. Your heavenly Father will do all that for you – and then some! When you recognize God as your Father, your fears dissolve and you start to believe that all your needs will truly be met. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid…it gives your Father great happiness to give you the [benefits of His] Kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NLT). It makes God happy to offer you the resources of His kingdom! Why? Because He loves you as much as He loves His Son Jesus! Jesus prayed you’d know with confidence that your Father “loved [you] in the same way [He has] loved me” (John 17:23 TM). As His redeemed child, you have all the benefits that come with membership in “the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).
Soul food: Heb 11:22; Gen 39:1-23; Gen 45:1-11; Gen 50:15-26
John 8:27 NKJV
The people in Jesus’ day found it hard to grasp the concept of God as a Father. Lord, king, judge, they understood – but not Father. The Old Testament rarely speaks of God as Father, whereas the New Testament mentions it quite a few times. Until Jesus came and revealed the Father, He remained a mystery. ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Matthew 11:27 NIV). And many of us still don’t understand what God being our Father really means. We struggle to grasp the blessings we have from Him. ‘Father,’ God’s all-inclusive name, incorporates everything we could ever need, while showing how He feels about each one of us. God has every trait of the best father imaginable. Think about what a loving, all-powerful father would do for his child when they were in need. Our heavenly Father will do all that for us – and even more. He’ll be there for us when we’re in need, and He’s there blessing us in the good times too. When we recognise God as our Father, our fears start to leave and we start to believe that all our needs will be met. God loves us as much as He loves Jesus. Jesus prayed that we’d know with confidence that our Father ‘loved [us] in the same way [He has] loved me’ (John 17:23 MSG). The Bible tells us that we ‘are members of God’s family’ (Ephesians 2:19 NLT). And that we’re His children. ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ (1 John 3:1 NIV). The question is: Do we believe that?
Heb 11:22; Gen 39:1-23; Gen 45:1-11; Gen 50:15-26
Luke 6:38 KJV
Many of us want to give to people we love and causes we believe in. But fear stops us. We’re afraid that if we give, we might not have enough left for ourselves. So instead of sowing, we hoard our seed and miss the harvest God promised us. Why? Because on some deeper level we wonder if God would actually bless someone like us. Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” If a bank promised that kind of return on your investment you’d beat a path to their door, right? But banks can fail and bankers can’t always be trusted, whereas God has never broken a promise! Here’s an important Bible truth: When you open your hand to God, He opens His hand to you. And God has a bigger hand! But as well as learning how to give, you must learn how to receive. Jesus said, “Good measure… will be poured into your lap” (NIV). When God gives back to you, He often does it through people. All kinds of people! So don’t let pride or prejudice stop you from receiving from others, because God wants to give them a harvest on the seeds they sow into your life. Don’t circumvent the harvest – yours or theirs. Never hesitate to give to a true servant of God. “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV). When God moves you to sow a seed, it’s because He has a harvest for you to reap. Don’t miss it!
Soul food: Zech 12-14; Luke 23:26-34; Ps 52; Prov 24:32-34
Ephesians 3:16 NIV
Until you realize the power of God that’s within you, you won’t use it. One of the greatest healing forces in the world is God’s Word, and it’s at your fingertips! For example, when you or a loved one gets sick, the Bible says, “These signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will…lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18 NKJV). That’s a power-filled promise. When Jesus returned to Capernaum, the Bible says, “It was noised that he was in the house” (Mark 2:1 KJV). And before He left there, a paralyzed man got up and walked. So: If Christ lives in you, shouldn’t people feel His presence when they’re in your presence? If you’re on the church board, shouldn’t the church be blessed? Shouldn’t you be a change agent solving problems and helping the church grow? The church isn’t perfect. Nobody said it was. It’s a hospital, not an Ivy League club. But whatever is wrong with the church is man’s doing, not God’s. When God is behind even the smallest thing it becomes mighty; it must succeed because His power is absolute, unchanging, and available! It’s time to “use God’s mighty weapons…to knock down the strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NLT). It’s time to force the issue by telling the Devil to take his hands off everything that concerns you! Jesus said, “All power is given unto me…Go ye therefore” (Matthew 28:18-19 KJV). He has given you the power – use it!
Soul food: Neh 5-7; Luke 21:25-38; Ps 78:32-39; Prov 23:29-35