Philippians 4:8 NLT
Our minds can work for us or against us. When they work for us, it helps us to stay positive, reach our goals, and enjoy each day. But when they work against us, it can make us negative and discouraged, hold us back, and cause us to think unhelpful thoughts. So we need to train our minds to work for us instead of against us.
An important way to do this is to make an intentional decision to begin to think positively – in terms of faith and not fear. Our brains won’t be able to carry out this new instruction overnight. It might be a radical transformation from the way we usually tend to think, and changing a habit takes time, especially if it’s one we’ve had for a long time. But if we’re determined to do it thoroughly and accept God’s help, instead of working against us, our minds will go to work for us and become a positive force in our lives.
An interesting thing to remember is that when you’re born, every organ is fully developed and then gets bigger as you grow. Except for the brain. This develops for a number of years (approximately twenty-five, and possibly more) until it’s fully developed. And even after that, it continues to mature, creating new connections and networks for the rest of your life. That means we can constantly learn new things, and change and improve the way we think.
So let’s try to stay positive, and focus on good, godly things: ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
Matt 21:18-22; Matt 8:5-13; Mark 6:1-6
2 Timothy 4:5 NIV
When we’re faced with a problem or a situation that scares us, our first reaction is often to panic. Panic is our body’s normal reaction to danger as our adrenaline levels increase, and in some circumstances it can be helpful. But if it gets excessive or uncontrollable, it can stop us living a full life. (If you experience panic attacks, or the panic is getting out of control, it’s important to seek help from a doctor or counsellor.)
If we’re experiencing panic, one thing we can do is to bring God into our situation. Fear and panic can make us overreact or make bad decisions, and acting impulsively usually means things will get worse before they get better. When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, we need to try to calm ourselves and ask God for wisdom and help.
Here are some verses from Scripture to help us keep calm and remind us of God’s goodness and love: ‘I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears’ (Psalm 34:4 NLT). ‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you’ (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). ‘God will save you from hidden traps and from deadly diseases. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection’ (Psalm 91:3-4 NCV).
It doesn’t matter if the thing we’re worried about would seem trivial to someone else. If we’re worried about it, God cares and wants us to tell Him about how we’re feeling. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).
2 Sam 3:22-7:17; John 3:22-36; Ps 89:38-52; Prov 23:19-21
Matthew 14:29 NIV
Matthew records, “Then Peter got…out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” Today, ask yourself these three questions: (1) What’s my boat? It’s whatever gives you your greatest sense of security. It’s what you’re tempted to put your trust in when life gets stormy. To know what your boat is, ask yourself, “What is it that produces the most fear in me, especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith?” (2) What’s keeping me from getting out of my boat? Fear. Fear of people, fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of lack. In order to grow, you must go into new territory, and each time you do, you’ll experience fear. It never goes away. But each time you get out of your boat, you become a little more able to do it the next time, and you begin to realize that fear doesn’t have the power to destroy you. So when Jesus says to you, “Come,” start walking, He won’t let you drown. (3) What will I forfeit by staying in my boat? Your destiny. To achieve what you have not yet achieved, you must attempt what you have not yet attempted. Will there be risks? Yes. Baseball’s greatest hitters fail two times out of every three. But they know that if they don’t step up to the plate, they’ll never experience the joy of hitting a home run. Understand this: If you stay in your boat, you’ll eventually die there, and end up wondering what your life might have been if only you’d been willing to get out of your boat.
Soul food: Jer 10-13; Luke 3:21-38; Ps 95; Prov 14:29-33
Matthew 14:29 ESV
Comfort zones can be challenging to leave. We like things as they are; we don’t want change. It can feel risky to do something different. The Bible tells us that ‘Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.’ He took a risk and left his comfort zone. Will we do the same? Here are some questions to help us think about it: 1) What’s my boat? Our boat is whatever gives us our sense of security. It’s what we’re tempted to put our trust in when life gets stormy. If we’re not sure what our boat is, we can ask ourselves, ‘What would cause me fear if I had to leave it behind and step into something new?’ 2) What’s keeping me from getting out of my boat? The thing that often stops us is fear. That might be fear of people, fear of failure, fear of criticism, or fear of not having enough. In order to grow, we have to step out into new territory, and each time we do that, we’ll experience fear. But each time we get out of our boat, we become a little more able to do it the next time, and we begin to realise that fear doesn’t have the power to control us. 3) What will I lose by staying in my boat? If we stay in our comfort zones, we won’t reach our full potential and we won’t be able to achieve everything that God has called us to do. It might feel like a risk, but if we don’t take the risk then we might spend our lives wondering what would have happened if we’d stepped out of the boat.
Jer 10-13; Luke 3:21-38; Ps 95; Prov 14:29-33
Isaiah 54:13 NKJV
Few things in life can break your heart like a child on drugs, or running with the wrong crowd and being involved in activities you know can destroy their lives. As a parent, what can you do? First and foremost, pray for them and speak God’s promises over them. You may not be able to change them, but God can. His Word says, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” What if your child is out of control and living at home? Then you have a big challenge that requires God’s help. Sometimes your “problem child” is a child of destiny with a great future, and Satan knows that. God has a calling on their life, and that’s what the battle is all about! As a parent, you need God’s wisdom when it comes to: (1) Setting clear boundaries with appropriate and consistent consequences. The Bible says, “Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline” (Proverbs 22:15 MSG). (2) Overcoming the fear that your child will reject you when you make an unpopular, but wise decision. Satan will try to convince you that you’ll lose them if you discipline them. The truth is that you’ll lose them if you don’t! Remember: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). Prayer and standing firmly on His Word are two of the greatest weapons God has provided when it comes to engaging Satan over your child’s future. And if you stay true to God – you’ll win.
Soul food: Rev 5-9; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 48; Prov 13:2-3