Discovering your calling (1)

1 Samuel 10:1 NIV

Here’s how Saul became Israel’s first king. He was out in the countryside looking for his father’s lost donkeys when he met the prophet Samuel. ‘Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us…but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.” Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance?”‘ (1 Samuel 9:27-10:1 NIV). Saul went out looking for donkeys and instead discovered his calling in life. And it can happen like that for us too. God has a habit of calling people who are busy doing other things. James and John were mending their fishing nets, Matthew was collecting taxes, Elisha was farming, and Saul was out looking for his father’s lost donkeys. It was just another day for them. We can spend a lot of time worrying and stressing about what we should be doing with our lives. But sometimes God’s purpose for our lives become apparent when we least expect it. When the call comes, we can struggle to accept it. We doubt whether we’re really the right person. Saul did that too. He had said: ‘But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?’ (1 Samuel 9:21 NIV). Our social status and education levels don’t limit God. Neither does our fear. When He has a plan in mind for us, He’ll let us know and equip us to be able to do it. So if we’re stressing about what our purpose is, let’s stay faithful, keep serving Him, and believe that our time will come.

1 Kings 12-13; Mark 13:12-23; Ps 117; Prov 12:20-22

What are you looking at?

Colossians 3:2 NIV

The things we’re focusing on will determine how we feel. If we’re looking at all the problems and struggles we’re facing, we’ll feel stressed and overwhelmed. If we’re focusing on the negatives, then we’ll probably feel negative. But if we’re looking at God, and fixing our minds on Him, then we’ll be able to keep going through whatever lies ahead, because we’ll see that He’s bigger than anything we’ll ever face. The Bible says: ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ Sometimes we can get caught up with looking at our own lives, and forget that not only is God bigger, but that His plan is bigger too. We need to have a godly perspective. We should be looking for the bigger picture, rather than just focusing on our small part of it. We also need to have vision for the future. When we ask God to show us His plans and purposes for us, we’re accepting His invitation to join Him in bringing His kingdom to earth. When we have a vision of how our lives can be, and what part we can play in God’s kingdom, we have something to focus on and work towards. This helps us to keep going when things get tough. And having a vision helps us hold on to hope when nothing seems to be changing. The Bible says: ‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV). So let’s lift our eyes from what we can see around us, and look to the vision He’s given us. Let’s focus on Him, and see how our attitudes change.

1 Kings 6-7; Mark 12:1-27; Ps 101; Prov 12:12-14

Strength in the struggle

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

When we’ve been walking through a tough time for a while, we can sometimes feel like our strength is fading away. We become tired and weary of hoping for change. Our faith begins to waver. It’s in these times that we need to draw closer to God. That might feel like the last thing we want to do if we’re wondering why God hasn’t brought us out of the struggle yet, but it’s the best thing we can do. It’s God who can provide the strength we need to keep going until we see breakthrough. The Bible tells us many times that God’s our strength. The psalmist wrote, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1 ESV). God’s strength is something we’re promised. God says: ‘I will strengthen you, I will help you.’ It’s a definite. When we feel overwhelmed by the circumstances in our lives, we can go to God and find rest. We can spend time in His presence, reading His Word, giving Him our burdens. He walks every step with us, strengthening us and encouraging us to keep going, even when it seems unbearably tough. Paul said: ‘We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God…And he did rescue us…We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us’ (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NLT). Instead of trying to escape our situations, we need to seek God. He’ll give us the strength we need to keep going through the struggle.

Matt 4:12-16; Matt 5:14-16; Acts 9:1-19


Romans 6:15 NLT

How many times have we apologised for something, only to find ourselves doing that thing again? We can do that with God too. We tell Him about something we’ve done, feel His forgiveness, and then find ourselves making the same mistake again. God doesn’t want us to just tell Him about our sins, He wants to help us change. There’s a difference between confessing our sin and repenting of it. By confessing our sin we acknowledge what we’ve done; by repenting we turn away from it and change our behaviour. When we bring our sins to God, He forgives us. There’s no limit to God’s forgiveness. The moment we ask for it, we receive it. Because Jesus died for us, we’re now seen as righteous in God’s eyes, even though we still make mistakes. The Bible says: ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV). But God doesn’t want us to keep repeating our sinful patterns over and over again. We can’t take His forgiveness for granted. We shouldn’t keep on sinning because we know we’ll be forgiven. Paul wrote about this issue in his letter to the Christians in Rome. He said: ‘Since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!…Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy’ (Romans 6:15, 19 NLT). Sometimes we can be stuck in cycles of sin that we struggle to break, but with God’s help we can find freedom and change. We can become more like Jesus, and live our lives for Him.

Num 32:25-33:56; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 18:1-29; Prov 11:19-21

Do what pleases God

Psalm 4:5 NCV

Day after day Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but he said no. He gave her no time, no attention, no chitchat, and no reason for hope. “He did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her” (Genesis 39:10 NKJV). When she called, he didn’t answer the phone. When she texted, he didn’t text back. When she showed up, he “fled and ran outside” (v. 12 NKJV). In a culture that uses phrases like “consenting adults” and “sexual rights,” we forget how immorality destroys the lives of people who aren’t in the bedroom. Max Lucado writes: “Years ago a friend gave me this counsel: ‘Make a list of all the lives you would affect by your sexual immorality.’ I did. Every so often I reread it. ‘My wife Denalyn. My three daughters. My son-in-law. My yet-to-be-born granddaughter. Every person who has ever read one of my books or heard one of my sermons. My publishing team. Our church staff.’ The list reminds me: One act of carnality is a poor exchange for a lifetime of lost legacy.” Joseph’s primary reason for saying no to Potiphar’s wife was – God. “How…can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (v. 9 NKJV). The lesson we learn from Joseph is surprisingly simple: Do what pleases God. When a friend offers you a joint of marijuana: Do what pleases God. When your classmates show you a way to cheat: Do what pleases God. When the temptation to watch pornography is great: Do what pleases God. “How can I please God?” you ask. “Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord and trust the Lord.”

Soul food: Num 11-13; Mark 6:45-56; Ps 37:25-31; Prov 11:5-6