Stay in the game till it’s over

Psalm 27:1 NKJV

Author Jon Gordon says: “There was a time [as children] when we jumped from the jungle gym and went on roller coaster rides. No goal was unattainable. Then [when we grew up] the doubters dissuaded us from going after our dreams…’You’re crazy…it’s too hard…play it safe…dreams weren’t meant for people like us.’ They instilled their insecurities in us…and with so many people saying we can’t…and so few saying we can, we let fear into our lives. We’re so scared of losing what we have that we don’t go after what we want. We hold on so tightly to the status quo that we never experience what could be…I call this ‘playing to lose.’ We see it in sports. When a team has the lead, they start thinking about how not to lose instead of how to win. They play safe and scared while the other team takes chances, plays without fear, and wins. David said, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ Living a life [of faith] means overcoming fear and adopting a ‘play to win’ mindset…one that says even if you do fail you won’t give up or let your dreams die. Success isn’t automatically given to us, it’s pursued with all the energy and sweat we can muster. Obstacles and struggles are part of life…they make us appreciate success. If everything came easy we’d never know how it feels to succeed. Obstacles were meant to be overcome. Fear was meant to be conquered. Success was meant to be achieved. They’re part of life, and those who succeed refuse to give up till the game is over.”

Soul food: Jer 45-48; Matt 6:9-18; Ps 110; Prov 15:8-9

Praise is the way

2 Chronicles 20:21 NIVUK

When we’re facing a battle – a tough situation where we’re challenged, stretched, or overwhelmed – we have a choice. We can enter the battle with a human response, or a godly response. Our human responses are things like fear, doubt, despair, or pride. We either think that the situation is impossible, or that we’ll make it through on our own. But those strategies are bound to fail. Fear, doubt, and despair can lead us to give up before the battle is won. Pride can lead to us falling and realising that we can’t do everything in our own strength. But God has given us strategies for winning, and praise is one of them. In 2 Chronicles 20, we read about the battle facing Jehoshaphat. When he was told about the advancing army, his first response was fear. The Bible tells us that he was ‘alarmed’ (v.3). But then he took it to God. He knew he needed God’s wisdom and strength for this battle (you can read his prayer in verses 6 to 12). When armies go into battle, they usually put their soldiers at the front. But ‘Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”‘ They went into the battle with praise (and they won – take a look at verses 24 to 30). However we’re feeling and whatever we’re facing, we have to make the decision to praise God; to focus on Him instead of our problem. We may not feel worthy – but He is. We may not feel strong enough – but He is. Praise invites God to intervene, so let’s start praising.

Heb 11:17-13:25; Mark 7:1-13; Ps 88:1-9a; Prov 11:24-26

Living “God’s way”

Galatians 5:22 TM

Paul writes, “What happens when we live God’s way?…[We gain] a sense of compassion…[and] we find ourselves…not needing to force our way in life” (vv. 22-23 TM). Let’s think about these two Christlike qualities: (1) You become more compassionate. You stop seeing people as objects that need to be straightened out, or avoided, or used for your own benefit. When Jesus looked at people, “he was moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36). When that happens, two wonderful things occur. First, you conquer selfishness and become concerned with somebody other than yourself. Second, you develop a sense of gratitude for blessings you may have taken for granted. In other words, compassion expands your field of vision beyond “us-four-and-no-more” to those you’ve been too busy to notice. (2) You no longer need “to force [your] way in life.” You stop seeing people who have gentle, loving spirits as “wimps” who never achieve much. Paul wrote, “We behaved gently…among you” (1 Thessalonians 2:7 AMPC). And Paul was no wimp! Sometimes the reason we’re so driven is we fear that if we become more gentle and loving, we might stop getting ahead and fall behind in the race. That kind of fearful, frantic thinking drains the creativity out of your life – not to mention the joy. And any success you enjoy is in spite of your stress, not because of it. Look at Jesus. He wasn’t in a hurry, He seldom raised His voice, He took time for children, He loved people and lifted them. And the Bible says, “This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into” (1 Peter 2:21 TM). It’s what’s known as living “God’s way.”

Soul food: Num 30:1-32:24; Mark 5:1-10; Ps 44:9-16; Prov 11:10-11

F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real

Psalm 56:4 AMPC

David said, “On God I lean, rely, and confidently put my trust; I will not fear. What can man, who is flesh, do to me?” And David should know, because God enabled him to defeat a lion, a bear, and a giant. The story is told about the man who approached a farmhouse and every few yards he noticed signs that read, “Beware of Dog.” When he finally reached the farmhouse, he discovered the dog was a tiny Chihuahua. “You mean to tell me that little dog keeps people away?” he asked. The farmer smiled and said, “No, but the signs do!” Fear roars like a lion, but much of the time when we confront it, it’s just a Chihuahua! The truth is, you can face anything when you know God has promised: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13). So instead of fearing the worst, start believing God for the best. And you do that by personalizing His promises: “[There is nothing to fear], for I am with you…I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; I…will hold you up” (Isaiah 41:10 AMPC). “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose” (Romans 8:28 AMPC). Don’t let fear get the upper hand. Instead of giving in to it, stand on the Word of God and believe He’s going to bring you through your circumstances and make you stronger.

Soul food: Dan 8-10; Luke 22:54-62; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 10:14

Don’t yield an inch to fear

Psalm 118:6 NIV

You’ll always have to deal with fear in one form or another. And your fears will be different at different seasons of life. Once you accept that, you can make progress. For example, Julius Caesar conquered the world but he was terrified of thunder. Peter the Great of Russia cried like a child when he had to cross bridges. The celebrated British writer Dr. Samuel Johnson wouldn’t enter a room left foot first. If he accidentally did, he backed up and reentered with his right one. (Talk about putting your best foot forward!) If you let it control you, fear will keep you from living to the fullest. Fear breeds inaction, inaction breeds lack of experience, lack of experience breeds ignorance, and ignorance breeds fear. It’s a cycle, and if you’re caught in it here are some Scriptures that can help you: (1) “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). (2) “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). (3) “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). (4) “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalm 56:4). (5) “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Personalize these Scriptures in prayer, stand on them, and don’t yield an inch to fear.

Soul food: Lev 5-7; Luke 20:27-33; Ps 72:1-11; Prov 9:1-6