Joel 2:28 NLT
World champion boxer George Foreman was raised in a Christian home, and eventually he came back to his roots – but not before he tried the world of gangs, drugs, and violence. Recognizing not only his physical prowess, but also his potential, a friend suggested he join a local gym to work out his aggression in a more constructive way. That led to his becoming a world heavyweight champion boxer, and making millions of dollars. But the career of a world champion boxer is relatively short, and eventually Foreman, aging and overweight, reached the place where the only fights he could get paid just a few thousand dollars. He desperately needed to lose weight and get back in shape. A friend introduced him to a healthy diet, and part of his new eating regimen involved using a little grill. One day Foreman’s wife suggested that instead of simply using the grill for himself, he should put his name on it and others would buy it. And they did! Over 100 million George Foreman grills have been sold, and people are still buying them. Think about it. George Foreman made more money with his little grill than he made as a prizefighter. The Bible says that when the Holy Spirit empowers them, “your old men will dream dreams.” So regardless of your age, it’s not too late for you. Just get down on your knees today and pray, “Lord, all that I have and all that I am, I give fully to You. Use me as You see fit.” And when He answers, be prepared for Him to take you in a whole new direction.
Soul food: Jer 31-32; Luke 5:27-39; Ps 122; Prov 15:10-14
Joel 2:28 NLT
Have you invited the Holy Spirit into your life? Some people can be afraid of the Spirit, but the Spirit provides us with comfort, guidance, and power. The Spirit helps us to grow and become more like Jesus (take a look at Galatians 5:22-23). Paul describes the Holy Spirit as a gift for Christians (you can find this in Acts 2:38). It’s not something to fear, but an amazing gift from God to help us every moment of every day. Jesus told His disciples: ‘the Holy Spirit…will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you’ (John 14:26 NLT). Not only does the Spirit teach us, but the Spirit also helps us when we feel weak. The Bible says: ‘the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words’ (Romans 8:26 NLT). In many different ways, the Spirit empowers us to live our lives for God. We can see God’s promise of His Spirit to His people in the Old Testament. He said: ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.’ This links with the spiritual gifts that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12. The Spirit empowers us to play our part in God’s kingdom. When we have the Spirit inside of us, we have some of God’s power within us. In 1 Thessalonians 5, we’re told to ‘not stifle the Holy Spirit’ (v.19 NLT), so let’s allow the Spirit to be at work in us today.
Jer 31-32; Luke 5:27-39; Ps 122; Prov 15:10-14
2 Peter 1:3 NIV
Ever felt stressed out because you don’t think you have what it takes to live like Jesus? Maybe you’ve felt under pressure because, however hard you try, you don’t feel good enough for God? The good news is that God’s already ‘given us everything we need for a godly life.’ Everything we might possibly need to be able to live God’s way, we already have access to. These are things like wisdom, strength, peace, courage, and love. He equips us to be able to do the things He’s called us to. The Holy Spirit lives within us to guide, instruct, and transform us. The Bible says: ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV). We just need to listen to the Spirit’s promptings rather than doing the things we want to do. God hasn’t left us to do everything on our own. He cares about each of us, and provides us with what we need. Paul encouraged the church in Philippi by saying: ‘My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19 NIV). And that can encourage us too. It’s worth remembering that God’s given us ‘everything we need’, not ‘everything we want’. There will be things we pray for that we don’t get. They might not actually be good for us, even though we think they would be. So when we’re worried that we can’t live God’s way or we’re frustrated because God’s not giving us the things we want, let’s remember that God sees the bigger picture and He’s already provided everything we need.
2 Kings 4:18-6:33; Mark 16; Ps 80:12-19; Prov 13:13-16
1 Peter 1:8 NLT
In yesterday’s reading, we explored what seeking God means. But it can seem really challenging to seek somebody we can’t see. How are we supposed to deepen our relationship with God when we can’t see Him? Peter said: ‘You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him.’ It’s possible to seek, love, and trust God without physically seeing Him. We can find out more about Him through reading the Bible, from looking at things He’s created, and listening to His voice in prayer. We can’t seek God without doing these things. We have to open our eyes up to see Him in the things and people around us. We also have to allow the Holy Spirit to show us more of God. It’s important to be disciplined. We need to be setting aside time to intentionally seek Him through reading the Bible, prayer, and times of silence. We might not feel like we’re getting closer to God, but that doesn’t mean we’re not. We can’t rely on our feelings. The Bible says: ‘The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him’ (Lamentation 3:25 NIV). God loves it when we make the choice to seek Him and discover more about Him. He wants us to discover just how good and loving He is. Seeking Him isn’t challenging, but it does require sacrifice. We need to put seeking Him at the top of our priority list. We can’t just do what we want, and expect to know more about Him. Jesus said: ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness’ (Matthew 6:33 NIV). We have to set aside the other things we want to do, and focus on drawing close to Him.
Gen 24:1-25:18; Matt 20:1-16; Ps 70; Prov 6:26-28
2 Corinthians 3:5 NCV
God doesn’t want us to be trying to do everything by ourselves. He wants us to trust Him and depend on Him for everything we need. We can easily fall into the trap of feeling like we don’t need God, that we can handle everything ourselves. But the truth is that ‘it is God who makes us able to do all that we do.’ God showed this to Gideon when the Israelites were facing a battle with the Midianites. God had called Gideon to lead the army and save Israel. He gathered together all the men who would fight with him and it came to 32,000 men. But God wanted to show that they would win through Him, not manpower. ‘The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men to defeat the Midianites. I don’t want the Israelites to brag that they saved themselves”‘ (Judges 7:2 NCV). So God reduced the number of men down to just 300 (you can read about this in Judges 7). Imagine how Gideon must have felt. In Judges 6 we already see that Gideon felt inadequate (take a look at verse 15). Now he probably felt unprepared too. But God said: ‘Using the three hundred men who lapped the water, I will save you and hand Midian over to you’ (Judges 7:7 NCV). And He did. God wants us to depend on Him for what we need. He provides for all He has made. The Bible says: ‘All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time’ (Psalm 104:27 NIV). He doesn’t want us to be worrying about our situations or becoming prideful about our own abilities. We should stop leaning on our own strength and resources, and instead depend wholly and solely on God.
Gen 4-6; Matt 17:14-27; Ps 40:9-17; Prov 6:6-8