Hebrews 13:17 NIV
Those in church leadership have a pretty challenging job. To lead a church, full of different personalities, different thoughts and different ideas, can be tricky. Keeping unity, building up people’s faith, encouraging, caring, discipling and evangelising is a huge job. Our church leaders have to juggle a lot of tasks. And they can make mistakes. They’re human, just like the rest of us. So we need to be praying for them. As a part of the church, it’s our job to pray that our leaders serve in a way that brings glory to God. But appreciating our church leaders is more than praying for them. It’s also treating them, and speaking of them, with love. The Bible says: ‘We ask you to honour those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:12 MSG). When we didn’t get anything from their sermon, or we think they didn’t handle something well, let’s commit to encouraging them rather than speaking negatively to, and about, them. We need to remember that we’re not going to agree with our leaders all the time. But God’s put them in that position and we should respect that. While there are some issues that may be too big to ignore, there will always be smaller issues that we’ll disagree on. And in those times, it’s vital that we keep a good attitude and react with integrity and respect to those who lead us.
Isa 8-11; John 5:16-30; Ps 85; Prov 27:20-22
1 John 5:14 NIV
When you were younger, did you ever try throwing coins into a wishing well, or wishing if you saw a shooting star, or as you blew out your birthday candles? Maybe you heard the story of Aladdin, and hoped that one day you’d find a magic lamp with a genie too. It’s something we can still find ourselves saying: ‘I wish my life was like this’, or ‘I wish this thing would happen’. The problem with wishing is that genies and wishing wells don’t exist. But God does. And since He is in control of your life and He’s more powerful than any genie could possibly be, when your wishes become prayers that line up with His will, they can become a reality. ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God…if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him’ (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). So how do we get familiar with God’s will? We need to learn to listen and tune into Him by spending as much time as we can in reading the Bible, talking to God, and just being quiet in His presence. Then we’ll know His voice and how He speaks to us, and we’ll recognise when He’s telling us something. But even when your wishes are in line with God’s will, you need one more thing – faith. Faith does two things: 1) It opens your eyes to see that God’s promises are for you personally. 2) It acts like a magnet, drawing the fulfilment of His promise into your life. So what are you wishing for at the moment? If it’s God’s will – He’ll give it to you.
Exo 36-38; John 4:13-26; Ps 41; Prov 27:7-9
1 John 5:14 NIV
The story is told of three men marooned on a desert island with little hope of being rescued. One day they were walking around the island when one of them picked up an old, tarnished lamp. When he rubbed it, a genie appeared and offered to grant each man one wish. The first man said, “I wish I was back in my office in Boston.” Puff! He was there. The second said, “I wish I was home with my family in London.” Puff! He was there. The third man looked around and said, “It’s so lonely here, I wish my friends were back with me.” The problem with wishing is that genies and magic lamps don’t exist. But God does! And since He is in control of your life and He’s more powerful than any genie, when your wishes become prayers that line up with His will, they can become a reality. “Does the Bible teach that?” you ask. Yes; it says: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God…if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (vv.14-15 NIV). But even when your wish is in line with God’s will, you need one more thing – faith. Faith does two things: (a) It opens your eyes to see that God’s promises are for you personally. (b) It acts like a magnet, drawing the fulfillment of His promise into your life. So what are you wishing for? If it’s God’s will – you can have it.
Soul food: Exo 36-38; John 4:13-26; Ps 41; Prov 27:7-9
1 Peter 5:7 TLB
Author John Mason writes: “I couldn’t feel at peace. Unless I had everything figured out, I became anxious, restless, nervous, worried, and grouchy…similar to a drug addict who needs a fix. The severity wasn’t the same but the symptoms were. I was a Christian and supposedly walked by faith. I trusted Jesus for salvation, but in other areas I trusted myself.” Are you living that way? Inspirational author William Ward wrote: “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster, and belief in defeat. It’s a magnet that attracts negative conditions. Faith is a more powerful force that creates positive circumstances. Worry is wasting today’s time, and cluttering up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” When an old man was asked what had robbed him of joy in his life, he replied, “Things that never happened.” Do you remember the things you worried about a year ago? Didn’t you expend a lot of energy on them? And didn’t most of them turn out to be fine after all? Almost 99 percent of the things we worry about don’t happen. Did you know that a dense fog covering seven city blocks one hundred feet deep, is composed of less than one glass of water? Just one glass! But it can blot out practically all vision. And a cupful of worry can do the same thing. The Bible says, “Mere mortals can’t run their own lives…men and women don’t have what it takes” (Jeremiah 10:23 TM). Stop trying to control every possible outcome. Life goes better when you decide to stand on God’s Word and trust Him to take care of you.
Soul food: Exo 4-6; Mark 16:9-20; Ps 92; Prov 26:1-3
James 1:4 CEV
James writes: ‘Be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything’ (vv. 2-4). Trouble isn’t something we’re usually glad to have. In fact, we probably try and avoid it, or pray for it to end quickly. When life brings us to a low, we can become low with it and get tired waiting for a good season to come along. How often do we begin to question God’s goodness and nearness? How often do we end up asking God ‘why’? But James tells us that through tough times we gain endurance and spiritual maturity. The same thought appears in Romans: ‘We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next’ (5:3-4 MSG). Our faith grows when it is put to the test. Tough times require us to really trust God and lean on Him for support. We start to realise that we can’t control everything, and that, ultimately, God’s the One in control. We may not get answers to our ‘why’s’ but what we will get, if we ask, is a ‘how’. God will show us how He can use the situation we’re in to develop us into who He’s created us to be. So when we’re facing trouble, let’s not become discouraged and frustrated but instead keep focusing on what God can do through it.
Josh 8:30-10:43; Mark 9:30-37; Ps 111; Prov 23:4-6