Psalm 89:34 NCV
Sometimes we can find ourselves waking up in a cloud of gloom. Nothing in our day goes right, and we can’t seem to feel positive. We don’t want to do the things we have to do, in fact we’d rather just stay under our duvets all day, or just escape the pressures of life by jetting off to another country. But geographical cures don’t work. Escaping doesn’t solve the problem; it just relocates it. Instead, we need to be turning to a source of strength, hope, and encouragement that never fails – the Bible. God says, ‘I will not break my agreement nor change what I have said.’ What we read in the Bible is truth. It’s God’s promises to us that will never fail. It’s full of verses that we can use to help us focus on God rather than how we’re feeling. Here are some examples: ‘When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. (Psalm 86:7 NIV); ‘He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions’ (Psalm 107:20 NKJV). ‘I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living’ (Psalm 27:13 NIV); ‘I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD’ (Psalm 71:16 NKJV); ‘Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken’ (Psalm 55:22 NIV); ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). When we let Scriptures like these fill our minds and our hearts, we can remember our identity in Christ, that we have a God who is there for us every step of the way, and that we have better days to come.
Isa 58-62; John 9:1-12; Ps 15; Prov 29:4-6
Romans 12:10 NIVUK
Enthusiasts: Enthusiasts are the life and soul of the party. They’ve often got the gift of storytelling, but can fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. If we try to talk to them about their problems, they may listen to us at first, but it doesn’t seem to stick. They are the kind of people who are always saying things like ‘awesome,’ ‘wow,’ ‘fabulous,’ or ‘great.’ So they are great to boost morale and to give encouragement when someone does something well. But sometimes they can go for years without seeing the pain and darkness in other people, or even in themselves. If we’re enthusiasts, we have to make sure we also have some degree of realism. We need to be aware of the situations people are going through. Encouraging them is great, but sometimes it’s not what’s needed in that particular situation or at that particular time. The Bible says: ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15 NIV). Sometimes we need to take the time to cry with people, to meet them where they are and to let them experience their emotions, rather than always trying to encourage them to keep going and keep positive. We need to be sensitive to the situation. When we’re enthusiasts, we can get quite down when we’re not receiving enough attention from others. But we shouldn’t always need to be the centre of attention. The Bible says: ‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.’ If we’re enthusiasts, we need to grow in putting others before ourselves.
Ruth 1:8-18; Ruth 2:5-12;
Ruth 3:1-6; Ruth 4:9-13
Proverbs 18:24 NKJV
In order to have a good friend, you must first try to be a good friend. An unknown poet wrote, “I went out to find a friend, but could not find one there; I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.” Friendship doesn’t require having a dynamic personality. Even shy, quiet, and reserved individuals can learn to be friendly. It’s next to impossible to have no friends, if you yourself are friendly. And the opposite is also true. Psychologists asked a group of college students to jot down the initials of the people they disliked most. Some of the students could think of only one person, while others listed as many as fourteen. But an interesting fact that came out of the research was that those who disliked the largest number of people, were themselves the most widely disliked. You’ll find that the more likeable you are, the more likely you are to like other people and be liked by them. So here are five ways to make friends: (1) Maintain eye contact. When you talk to people, look them in the eye. (2) Smile! It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, only fourteen to smile – and a smile warms hearts and encourages conversation. (3) Call people by their names. Strangers are just that, strange, but a friend is known. (4) Talk to others about their favorite topic – themselves. (5) Find an occasion to give a word of encouragement, a compliment, or show an act of kindness. When you find a person with these five traits, you’ve found someone who has a reputation for being friendly.
Soul food: Exo 17:8-16; 2 Cor 1:3-7
Psalm 73:2 TLB
If you’d met Asaph, who wrote some of the psalms, you’d probably have thought he hadn’t a care in the world. But you’d have been wrong: “I came so close to the edge of the cliff! My feet were slipping and I was almost gone.” Then at the end of the psalm he does a one-eighty, and writes, “My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (v. 26 NLT). Despite his problems, he chose to speak words of courage. When you have an opportunity to encourage someone, do it. You never know what a person is going through – that’s true whether they live in a mansion or a mud hut. Here’s an important principle to keep in mind: People tend to become what the most important people in their lives think of them! So think the best, believe the best, and express the best toward them. You say, “But they need to stop making the same stupid mistakes!” Change happens by inches, not miles. Even when it seems simple, it’s rarely easy. The only way we can break old habits is to form new ones, and that takes time and practice – lots of it. You can’t tell people something once and expect them to get it; they need to hear it over and over before they can make the adjustment. And how you tell them can determine whether they freeze in fear or soar above the obstacles. Be persistent. Never give up trying to help them improve. Acknowledge every step of progress they make. The way to get lasting results is through patience, love, and encouragement.
Soul food: 2 Chr 22-24; Mark 7:1-13; Ps 119:129-136; Prov 22:8-10