1 Timothy 4:12 NLT
By the time he was eighteen, Timothy was an apostle. And it seems some folks in church thought his promotion to leadership at such an early age wasn’t a good thing. But Paul did. He told Timothy: “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity…focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress” (vv. 11-15 NLT). Who says you’re too young to make an impact? Not God. And not history. Victor Hugo wrote his first tragedy at age fifteen. Raphael painted his masterpieces before he died at age thirty-seven. Tennyson wrote his first volume of poetry at eighteen. Paschal wrote his great works between the ages of sixteen and thirty-seven. Joan of Arc did all her work and was burned at the stake at nineteen. Romulus founded Rome at twenty. Calvin joined the Reformation at age twenty-one and wrote his famous Institutes at age twenty-seven. Alexander The Great had conquered the known world by the time he was twenty-three. Isaac Newton was twenty-four when he introduced the law of gravity. Believe in yourself, for God does. Develop your gifts, and ask God to bless them. Maximize every opportunity to the fullest, and you will make the world a better place.
Soul food: Jer 22-24; Luke 4:31-44; Ps 102:12-17; Prov 15:3
Isaiah 57:18 NLT
Ever felt broken? Or felt like you’d made too many mistakes and now could never be the person who God made you to be? In the Bible we read about God raising up broken people in amazing ways. For example, He used Moses, a murderer, to deliver the Hebrew slaves. And He used Jacob, a liar, to fulfil His promise to Abraham. If God redeemed them, He can redeem us too. Sometimes we can think that brokenness is a bad place to be. We don’t like how it feels, and we think we’ve failed. But when we’re broken, we’re in a great place. Brokenness creates humility in us because it’s at the point we reach rock bottom that we truly realise how much we need God. Jesus said, ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NLT). Brokenness can help us fully grasp what Jesus was saying in this verse. And when we learn to rely on God for everything we need, we’re in a powerful position. This surrender allows God’s will to be brought about in our lives. It allows God access to our hearts so He can heal and restore them. But if we constantly focus on the mistakes and hurts of our past, then we’re not allowing God to do new things in us. We need to look ahead to our future rather than be stuck looking at our past. When we turn to God He’ll forgive us, restore us, and use us for His purposes. He said, ‘I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips’ (Isaiah 57:18-19 NLT). God doesn’t give up on us, so let’s not give up on ourselves.
Jer 7-9; Luke 3:11-20; Ps 64; Prov 14:25-28
Genesis 27:19 NIV
Ever found yourself in competition with a friend or family member? In the Bible, we read about the brothers Esau and Jacob. Their parents had favourites. Isaac preferred the eldest son, Esau, while Rebekah preferred her second child Jacob. This favouritism may have been what started the competition between the brothers. Or maybe Jacob simply didn’t like being the youngest. In those days, the eldest received a special blessing and had rights that the younger son didn’t get. Jacob, along with his mother Rebekah, decided to plot against Esau and tricked Isaac into blessing him instead. The Bible tells us that ‘Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn”‘ (you can read the full story in Genesis 27). The competition in this family didn’t stop there. Jacob later married two sisters: Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel more and Leah resented her for that. Leah could have children while Rachel couldn’t, which caused Rachel to resent Leah. Both competed against each other. Leah tried to win Jacob’s love while Rachel tried to have children to keep up with Leah. When competition and comparison takes root, we lose focus of who God has created us to be and things He’s planned for us to do. It can lead to messy situations and a breakdown in relationships. Maybe there isn’t someone who we’re directly competing with, but there are posts on social media which make us feel inadequate and we try and change our behaviour to keep up with others. Maybe we only feel good about ourselves when we’re achieving more than other people. Instead of competing and comparing, we need to be confident in our identity as children of God, and focus on doing the things He’s called us to do.
2 Kings 7-9; Luke 1:1-10; Ps 73:1-16; Prov 13:17-19
Daniel 2:21 NIV
Realize that rough times won’t last forever. As surely as God created spring to follow winter, “He changes times and seasons…He gives wisdom.” The season of adversity you’re in will end. And when it does, you’ll glean from it the wisdom to build a better future. Sometimes your greatest blessings come from your most negative circumstances. Paul writes, “Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT). Tough times don’t last, but tough people do! Out of your greatest tests come your greatest testimonies. Don’t make major decisions during a storm. Thoughts and feelings often run wild in the midst of a crisis; those are times when you need to be careful about making decisions. Remain calm, discipline yourself to focus on what you can do, and trust God to do what you can’t. Just as a pilot error can cause a plane to be diverted from its intended destination, or have to make a dangerous emergency landing, a bad decision can divert or delay you from reaching your destiny. Let your emotions subside – before you decide. You may not always have that option, but as much as possible, put significant decisions on hold until your storm passes. Just as the wind blows about wildly during a storm, your thoughts can become wild and frantic, and that’s not the best time to make crucial assessments. What should you do? Paul answers, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and…His peace will guard your hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
Soul food: Num 27-29; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 62; Prov 11:15
Daniel 2:21 NIV
When we’re going through a rough time, we need to remember that it won’t last forever. Just as there are seasons throughout the year, there are seasons in our lives too. Daniel said: ‘He changes times and seasons…He gives wisdom.’ If we’re in a season of hardship, disappointment, hurt, or loneliness, we can rest in the knowledge that it will end. And through it, we’ll have more wisdom for our future. Sometimes our greatest blessings come from our most negative circumstances. Paul wrote: ‘Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!’ (2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT). Tough times don’t last. When we have the right attitude, we know that we’ll survive. So how can we have the right attitude when we’re in a stormy season of life? We need to remain calm, discipline ourselves to focus on what we can do, and trust God to do what we can’t. It’s also wise for us to avoid making big decisions when we’re in a storm. Just as the wind blows wildly during a storm, our thoughts can become wild and frantic, and that’s not the best time to make big decisions. A bad decision can take us down the wrong path, and lead us further away from God’s plans and purposes for us. When we have an unhelpful attitude, we’re unlikely to make decisions that are helpful to us. If we’re in a storm, and struggling to have the right attitude, we can take the advice Paul gave to the church in Philippi. He said: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need…His peace will guard your hearts and minds’ (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
Num 27-29; Mark 8:27-38; Ps 62; Prov 11:15