1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT
For any relationship to work, we must accept each other’s differences. Within our family we must respect each other’s unique perspectives. We don’t need to agree on every issue, but we must always honor where the other person is coming from. Paul did that: “I try to find common ground with everyone.” Some of us who claim to follow Christ have a hard time with views and values that differ from our own. We think “compromise” is a dirty word. Some of us have turned from the most immoral lives to faith in Christ, yet after our conversion we won’t associate with anyone who doesn’t agree with us and adopt our newfound values. Sometimes our families fall apart because we try to force our opinions on the people we love, and set boundaries to keep nonconformists out. What a terrible misuse of Christianity! Jesus didn’t condemn the people who crucified Him; He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 NKJV). He didn’t view them as morally bad, but spiritually blind. He told His disciples, “No one can come to Me unless the Father…draws him” (John 6:44 NKJV). It’s your job to love people, and it’s God’s job to change them! So stop trying to do what only God can do! If you invest patiently in your relationships, respect other people’s perspectives, and sow good seed, you’ll reap a pleasant harvest in the long term. Your love, not the force of your argument, can give hope to the most severely damaged among us that there’s healing for the broken places of the human soul.
Soul food: Isa 17-21; John 6:1-15; Ps 127; Prov 27:25-27
Psalm 103:2 NLT
He sat on the park bench so depressed-looking that a policeman tried to console him. “Something the matter?” “Yeah,” he replied. “A few months ago my grandfather left me $500,000 and some oil wells.” The policeman responded, “That doesn’t sound like something to be upset over.” “Yeah, but you haven’t heard the whole story. Last month my uncle left me $1,000,000.” The policeman shook his head. “I don’t get it. Why are you so unhappy?” He replied, “So far this month, nobody’s left me anything.” Seriously, he’s part of a group of people who are unhappy no matter what they have. The Psalmist shows us how to overcome an ungrateful attitude by cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Thinking and thanking go hand-in-hand. Memory is a catalyst for worship. An old hymn declares, “Count your blessings, name them one by one…see what God has done.” The Psalmist encourages us to do three things: First, think about what God has given us – His forgiveness, healing, protection, redemption, love, and compassion (See vv. 1-5). Second, think about what God has not given us – the punishment our sins deserve (See vv. 8-12). Third, think about what God is yet going to give us. “From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (v. 17 NIV). God accepts you when you trust in Christ’s performance, not your own. So each morning look in the mirror and say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
Soul food: 2 Sam 22:31-24:25; Mat 26:47-56; Ps 146 Prov 18:23-24
Mark 1:35 NKJV
By failing to pray – you set yourself up to fail. The reason Jesus never failed is because He never failed to pray. Note the times when He prayed: When His heart was heavy. During His ministry on earth, His cousin John the Baptist was arrested and publicly beheaded for confronting a king about his sin. “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew…privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13 NIV). Disappointment, desertion, divorce, and death will write their chapters in the book of our lives. Thank God for therapists and doctors, but ultimately there’s no one who can heal a broken heart like God. “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power” (Psalm 147:3-5 NIV). Whether placing stars or healing scars, no situation is too big or too small to get the attention of our loving God. To understand God’s healing expertise, look at the life of Job. No one in history lost more than Job did, yet God brought him through it all. In Job chapter eleven we read: “You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help” (vv. 16-19 NLT). Are you sad and heavy-hearted today? Do what Jesus did. Take time to pray about it.
Soul food: 1 Sam 1-3; Mat 21:33-46; Ps 59:9-17; Prov 16:23-26
Mark 1:35 NKJV
Jesus also turned to prayer when His heart was heavy. When His cousin John the Baptist was arrested and publicly beheaded for confronting a king about his sin, Jesus ‘withdrew… privately to a solitary place’ (Matthew 14:13 NIV). Throughout our lives we’ll face bad circumstances, disappointment, and grief and while there are people who can help us here on Earth, there’s ultimately no one who can heal a broken heart like God. ‘He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power’ (Psalm 147:3-5 NIVUK). No situation is too big or too small for God to step in. The story of Job gives us an insight into God’s healing expertise. Job lost so much, yet God brought him through it all. God told Job: ‘You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help’ (vv. 16-19 NLT). God can help us move on from our hurts, just like He helped Job. He can give us hope again, and the reassurance that He is for us. And He does that when we take time away from everyone and everything to be with God. When we’re hurting, we need to seek God and ask for His comfort and healing for our broken hearts. We need to take it to Him in prayer.
1 Sam 1-3; Mat 21:33-46; Ps 59:9-17; Prov 16:23-26
John 8:11 NAS
The Bible says: “The Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery…they said to [Jesus]…’in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.'” Jesus replied: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’…When they heard it, they began to go out one by one…Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more'” (vv. 3-11 NAS). Notice two things: (1) Those least qualified to condemn you, will. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. They made a practice of lifting themselves up by putting others down. Their aim that day was to trap Him by exposing her. Steer clear of modern-day Pharisees! Find your friends among those who’ve been redeemed by grace, and know how to extend it to others. (2) The One most qualified to condemn you, won’t. Stay close to Him. When you do, you’ll discover your scars aren’t permanent and you’ll recover much more quickly. Christ will meet you in your dark places and heal the wounds of your past because His grace is greater than your shame. Where sin abounds-His grace super-abounds! There’s no limit to the depth of shame He can see us through, because there’s no limit to the grace He can supply. Today, if you’re feeling the weight of your shameful past and sinful ways, come to Jesus. He’s ready to forgive you and set you free. But His invitation to freedom reads “R.S.V.P.”