Proverbs 6:6 NLT
Proverbs 6 says: ‘Take a lesson from the ants…Learn from their ways and become wise! (v. 6 NLT). It seems strange to be asking us to take ants as one of our role-models, but when we take some time to think about them, there are several things they can show us. We’ll be looking at them over the next few days. Proverbs 6 goes on to say: ‘Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter’ (v. 7 NLT). An ant colony has a queen, who is the centre of attention, and who the other ants work hard to keep alive, But she doesn’t rule the ants. She doesn’t give them instructions. The colony’s survival is made certain by ‘soldier’ ants, who are both leaders and servants. They start off by carrying out the tasks that need doing, while the younger ants imitate them and join in, learning what needs to be done. The younger ants don’t need to be supervised or told to get working. They have a built-in desire to work and be useful, and help their colony to survive. When God created Adam, He set him to work in the Garden of Eden. Adam wasn’t constantly watched or supervised – he just wanted to play his God-given part in his world. And just like the ants and Adam, God designed us to work and carry out our unique God-given role in our family, community, church, world… God doesn’t force us to take our part, but He has placed different desires within each of us. At times, we may feel as insignificant as a tiny ant, but our part in God’s plan is important, and unique to us.
1 Sam 8-10; Luke 3:21-38; Ps 64; Prov 16:26-30
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
Here’s a prayer for success at work: “Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for the many gifts and talents You’ve placed within me, and I trust that I’m the best person for this job. I am grateful for each and every one of the personalities I work with, even the ones I don’t particularly like or understand. I ask that my focus would be on accomplishing the goals You have set forth for me to perform during my time in this position. Give me wisdom and discernment on the job, even in the midst of a hostile environment. Help me to learn what You want to teach me here, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please quiet the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace, and allow me to trust You with my job. Dress me in the garments of praise and the righteousness of Christ that I may bring You glory where I work. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favor, and to seek to please You more than those with whom I work. Where there is contention, let me be a peacemaker. Where there is deceit, let me speak truth. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is fear, let me bring faith. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. These things I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Soul food: Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6
Proverbs 22:29 NIV
We should all want to be successful for God. His idea of success isn’t the same as the world’s idea of success, so it’s important that we take time to pray about our work and the tasks He’s assigned to us, so we can stay focused and on track. Here’s a prayer we can all pray, whatever our task is: ‘Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve made me, for all the gifts and talents You’ve given me, and I trust that I’m the best person for the task You’ve assigned to me. I’m grateful for all the people I work with and connect with, even the ones I don’t really like or understand. Please help me keep my focus on accomplishing the goals You’ve set for me. Give me wisdom and discernment, especially if I’m in a difficult situation. Help me to learn what You want to teach me through this task, and give me patience as You prepare me for the future. Help me to do my best, and to always remain positive and hopeful. Please soothe the complaints and disappointments of my heart with Your perfect peace. Help me to bring You glory and share Your love through the work I’m doing. Allow me to know my true identity, to walk in Your favour, and help me seek to please You. Keep me on the path You’ve laid out for me. Help me to be a peacemaker in times of conflict or argument. When others around me are being deceitful or untrustworthy, help me speak only the truth. Help me bring hope, faith and joy to places where there is despair, fear and sadness. Help me be a light in the darkness. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.’
Judg 9:34-11:40; Mark 10:35-52; Ps 129; Prov 20:25; Ecc 5:4-6
Ezra 10:4 ESV
When we’ve made a mistake in our lives, we can be quick to blame others. But often we’ve had a choice. And we need to take responsibility for that. So when we get to a place of realising that we’ve made mistakes, there’s three things we need to do. First, we need to refuse. Refuse to stay in that place, wallowing in self-pity and complaining that others have led us to where we are. Then we need to take responsibility. We can’t live our lives blaming others for our mistakes. We have to learn to admit where we’re going wrong. Finally, we need to rise up from the place we’ve found ourselves in. Excuses, blame, guilt and shame keep us down and trapped. We need to rise, accept God’s forgiveness and move on. When Ezra heard about the sins of the Israelites, he fell to his knees and said: ‘My dear God, I’m so totally ashamed, I can’t bear to face you’ (Ezra 9:6 MSG). He then wept, prayed and confessed the sins to God. But the people made a plan, they decided to make a covenant with God to promise that they would sort out the mess they had got in to. They told Ezra: ‘Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it’ (Ezra 10:4 ESV). If Ezra had stayed in that place of shame, he couldn’t have brought justice and morality back to the people. And we can’t do what God’s calling us to do unless we refuse to get up from the place we’re in. So let’s rise up and move into what God’s calling us to do today.
Deut 25-27; Mark 8:1-13; Ps 44:9-16; Prov 12:10-11
1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV
One of the things Jabez prayed was ‘enlarge my territory’. That can be confusing when we first read it. We’re used to being told not to desire material things or crave loads of possessions. Luke 12:15 says, ‘Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own’ (NLT), and Hebrews 13:5 says, ‘Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you”‘ (NLT). And then here we find Jabez asking for more. Not only that, but we’re told that ‘God granted him what he requested’. So the meaning of Jabez’s prayer can’t be as straightforward as we think. He wasn’t simply asking for more land, or more money, or more possessions out of greed or of feeling entitled to them, otherwise God wouldn’t have granted the request. God knew that Jabez could, and would, use his possessions to grow God’s spiritual kingdom. In other words, Jabez was saying, ‘Please give me the tools I need to do even more for You’. Jabez must have had the potential to achieve amazing things for God, so God gave him what he needed to achieve that potential. So what can we learn from this? 1) We should be looking at the things we own, and thinking, ‘How can I use this for God’s glory? How can I use this to bring more people to Him?’ 2) God will give us exactly what we need to fulfil our potential and our role in His kingdom. We can trust Him to provide for us.
Deut 3-4; Mark 6:7-13; Ps 2; Prov 11:22-23