2 Corinthians 7:6 NIV
When we make mistakes, something goes wrong, or we’re just feeling discouraged, we have two choices. We can stay down, dwelling in our failure or disappointment, or we can get up and try again. But rising up can be easier said than done. Sometimes the first step towards getting out of discouragement is finding somebody who can lift us. The people we spend time with will either lift us up or pull us down. When we spend time with people who are always negative, always complaining, and are full of despair about their life, we can end up coming out of that conversation feeling negative and full of despair at our lives too. But when we’re around people who are bursting with positivity, it’s hard not to be encouraged. Their positivity is contagious. Paul wrote, ‘God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus’ (2 Corinthians 7:6 NIV). We all need a Titus in our lives, someone who comforts us and encourages us to keep going when we’re struggling. And we all should aim to be a Titus to other people too. When we see that someone is struggling, we should be quick to encourage, help, and build them up. The Bible says, ‘Carry each other’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2 NIV). We also need to have the right perspective. When we become focused on our problems, it’s easy to be drawn into a downward spiral and to get more and more negative. But when we put our problems into perspective, and remember that God promises to be with us, to work with us, and to use everything we go through for good (have a look at Romans 8:28) then we can rise up in positivity.
Gen 17-19; John 13:31-38; Ps 118:1-9; Prov 31:6-9
Acts 16:14 NLT
Lydia wasn’t a preacher, she was a successful businesswoman who became a Christian from Paul’s ministry. As a result, her home probably became the first church building named in Scripture where believers met. The Bible says: ‘She and her household were baptised, and she asked us to be her guests…When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more’ (Acts 16:15;40 NLT). Lydia’s story shows us that we don’t have to be preachers to spread the good news about Jesus. We can share our faith, whatever our profession and however confident we feel about it. God says, ‘Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass’ (Isaiah 46:10 NLT). God already has a plan; what He’s looking for are workers willing to help fulfil it. And we can be one of those workers. Sometimes we worry that we don’t know enough theology, and that we won’t know the answers to people’s questions. But the thing is, God will give us the words to say when we ask Him for help. And often, our story has power. It’s our testimony of how God has made a difference in our lives that can really encourage someone else to give God their life, too. The Bible says: ‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). We should always be prepared to share our faith with others, whether we feel qualified or not.
Ecc 9-12; John 12:1-11; Ps 76; Prov 30:15-17
Psalm 37:23 NCV
We are all called to increase God’s kingdom. Whether that’s by introducing people to God, or by living in such a way that more of God’s kingdom is seen on Earth, our purpose is to follow God’s call on our lives. God uses us all for His kingdom. Maybe it’s a calling to share our faith with others, encourage those around us, glorify God in our job or something else, God has a purpose for us. Kingdom success is not like earthly success. We are often told that success means money, fame and power. But in God’s kingdom it’s the opposite. ‘The last will be first, and the first will be last’ (Matthew 20:16 NIV). Kingdom success is not about money, fame or power. It’s about becoming more like Jesus. It’s about sharing our faith, our lives and our gifts with others. It’s about unity, not competition and comparison. It’s about putting others before ourselves. It’s a cycle of receiving and giving, resting and working, praying and doing. Basically, it’s about retreating with God, then advancing with what we have been taught and what God’s asking us to do. The Bible says: ‘When people’s steps follow the Lord, God is pleased with their ways.’ When we do what God’s calling us to do, He’s pleased with us. When we’re desiring to get closer to Him, He’s pleased with us. When we are trying to become more like Him, He’s pleased with us. In God’s kingdom, it doesn’t matter whether we are popular, rich or academic. It doesn’t matter how attractive we are. What matters is our heart. Our heart for God, our heart for others and our heart for the things of the kingdom.
Ezra 3-5; Luke 10:1-12; Ps 78:1-8; Prov 19:21-23
Psalm 68:6 NIV
We all need friends in our lives. And when we don’t have them, we can feel lonely, isolated and like we have to go through life on our own. The Bible says that ‘God sets the lonely in families.’ He knows when we’re feeling lonely, and when we ask Him to provide us with true, godly friends, He will. Sometimes we don’t have the best experiences with our families and so our friends can become like our family. They support us, comfort us, encourage us and advise us, just like a family would. ‘Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family’ (Proverbs 18:24 MSG). Paul writes that when he was struggling, God comforted Him by bring along Titus (take a look at 2 Corinthians 6:7). And He can bring people into our lives as a form of comfort when we need them too. But we also have to play our part. The Bible says: ‘A man who has friends must himself be friendly’ (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV). If we want good friends, we must be good friends to others. We need to be vulnerable and let people into our lives. We need to be willing to encourage and support others, just as we’d want them to do for us. We need to sacrifice our time just as others would sacrifice their time to be there for us. Having godly friends means we have people we can call on when the going gets tough. Trying to do God’s work by ourselves can get tiring, we sometimes need the encouragement and skills of others to help us out. After all, we can achieve more together than we can alone.
2 Cor 11:16-13:14; Luke 2:21-33; Ps 8; Prov 16:8-11